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Oregon Law Reduces Penalties for Operating a Bicycle While Intoxicated

When it comes to DUI offenses, many people associate them with operating cars, trucks, or SUVs while intoxicated. However, some states, like Illinois, have broader DUI laws that encompass operating any vehicle. A recent change in Oregon law highlights this point, as it reduces the penalties for operating a bicycle while intoxicated but nonetheless permits people to be charged with bicycle-related DUI crimes. If you find yourself accused of a DUI offense, consulting a reputable Illinois DUI defense attorney is crucial to understanding your rights and options.

Oregon’s DUI Law Changes

Oregon has passed legislation aimed at revising its DUI (Driving Under the Influence) laws, making distinctions between different types of vehicles. House Bill 2316 introduced several changes to Oregon’s DUI laws, broadening the scope of substances that can trigger a DUI conviction and altering diversion program eligibility. Most notably, the bill reduces fines and penalties for individuals cited for bicycling under the influence (BUI).

Previously, Oregon’s DUI law applied uniformly to both car and bicycle operators. While it’s likely that the original DUI law did not contemplate bicycling under the influence, bicycles are considered “vehicles” under Oregon statute, resulting in equal application of the law.

Recognizing that BUI poses inherently less risk to public safety compared to DUI involving cars, legislators took action to align penalties with the nature of the offense. Mae Lee Browning, the legislative director for the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, played a significant role in crafting the bill. She emphasized the importance of penalties matching the level of harm caused, considering that bicycles and cars present different safety risks.

An advocate for the bill highlighted the importance of aligning punishment with the potential danger posed by an offense. He emphasized that many individuals choose bicycles over cars because they are perceived as a safer mode of transport.

Overall, the legislation reflects an effort to tailor the criminal justice system to the specific circumstances surrounding bicycle-related DUI offenses, recognizing the distinct nature of this form of transportation.

DUI Offenses in Illinois

Illinois shares similarities with Oregon in that a DUI offense doesn’t require the operation of a traditional automobile. In Illinois, the DUI law prohibits individuals from driving or being in actual physical control of any vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Notably, the term “vehicle” in the statute is not limited to standard cars, SUVs, or typical road vehicles. It does not, however, include standard non-motorized or electronic bicycles.

The Illinois Vehicle Code defines “vehicle” as any device capable of transporting people or property on a highway, excluding human-powered devices, snowmobiles, and those solely used on tracks or rails. Essentially, this means that motorized vehicles, apart from trains, trolleys, and snowmobiles, are considered vehicles under Illinois law. Operating such vehicles while intoxicated constitutes a DUI offense.

The key factor in determining whether a device qualifies as a “vehicle” under DUI laws is whether it’s powered by a motor or human effort. Importantly, the DUI statute references “vehicles” without specifically excluding electric bicycles from its definition. Consequently, a person could potentially face a DUI charge for operating an electric bike while impaired.

Consult an Experienced Illinois DUI Defense Attorney

It’s essential to understand that DUI offenses in Illinois extend beyond traditional automobiles, encompassing various other vehicles. If you’re facing a DUI charge, seeking legal counsel is advisable to explore potential defenses. Theodore J. Harvatin, a seasoned Illinois DUI defense attorney from the Harvatin Law Offices, PC, has a strong track record of assisting individuals in pursuing favorable outcomes. If you enlist his services, Mr. Harvatin will diligently advocate for your rights and interests. You can initiate contact with Mr. Harvatin via the online form or by calling 217.525.0520 to schedule a meeting.

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