In Louisiana the bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle. Bicyclists have the same rights to the roadways, and must obey the same traffic laws as the operators of other vehicles. These laws include stopping for stop signs and red lights, riding with the flow of traffic, using lights at night, and yielding the right-of-way when entering a roadway. In this post, our New Orleans criminal defense lawyers map out some of the actions that can get you arrested while riding your bike.
Can You Get a DWI On a Bike in New Orleans?
We’ve stressed multiple times that the laws of the road apply the same to bicyclists. However, there may be one exception. In a 2000 ruling, State v. Carr, the Court ruled that DWI laws do not apply to bicycles. According to the law, one shall not under the influence of alcohol or drug operate a motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, vessel, or other means of conveyance. As opposed to some other states, that specifically prohibit riding a bike while intoxicated, Louisiana law remains somewhat vague. The ruling in the 2000 case found that the language was not specific enough to include bicycles. This ruling has been used in numerous cases since then as a precedence for this type of case. That said, it doesn’t mean that one cannot be convicted of a DWI while riding a bike. In the same way that the language doesn’t necessarily include bicycles in the law, it also doesn’t necessarily exclude them. Additionally, even if law enforcement can’t charge a DWI, they could charge something corollary, like public intoxication, drunk in public, drunk and disorderly, etc. At the end of the day, laws aside, riding a bike while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is dangerous. Data shows that almost 37% of bicycling deaths in America were connected to an intoxicated rider. If you were arrested for your behavior involving alcohol and bike riding, give the attorneys at Bloom Legal a call.
Bicyclists Can Receive Traffic Tickets in Louisiana
Violating traffic laws while riding a bicycle can get you ticketed, same as in a moving vehicle. Any ticket or moving violation issued to you as a cyclist can affect your driving record. Whether the ticket is as minor as a first offense, or a felony charge for speeding 20 mph over the speed limit, traffic tickets on bikes can increase your insurance premiums anywhere from 25%-400%. While you may not currently be paying insurance on your bike, this is something to keep in mind for those of us who split time between biking and driving or intend to begin driving in the future because it will affect your ability to acquire insurance. Given that New Orleans already has some of the highest auto insurance rates in the country, this is not something to take likely. When a cyclist receives a traffic citation or ticket, the ticket will state which Louisiana law or statute was allegedly violated. Cyclists should either research the nature of the violation themselves or, better yet, refer to an attorney for information to determine what sort of fines and penalties they may be facing. Depending on the severity of the offense, the infraction will be considered either a civil or criminal matter. In either situation, the accused cyclist will have the right to request a hearing. Failing to contest a traffic citation by merely paying a fine is equivalent to pleading guilty to the offense cited. For this reason, many individuals suffer the consequences of increased insurance premiums by paying their fines without a hearing. As a cyclist, you should elect to request a hearing. A New Orleans traffic attorney can request the hearing on your behalf.
Bloom Legal Protects Bikers
If you have received a ticket while biking, or been in a bike accident Bloom Legal can help. Contact us today for a free consultation!