We have heard about so-called “Biker Bars” and today we will coin a new term: “Bar Bikers.” Bar Bikers are people who ride their bikes to the bar, have a few drinks, and later ride off on their “merry” way. Bar Bikers can be dangerous.
Some years ago a young woman from Western Pennsylvania was riding her bicycle in the wrong lane of a well traveled road, riding in the wrong direction. She struck an automobile which was attempting to avoid her by swerving. After the collision between the bicycle and the automobile, the State Police were called to the scene and determined that the bicyclist had a blood alcohol content of 0.29%. She admitted to the police officer that she had been drinking beer. (For you math wizards out there, you probably have to drink between 6 and 10 beers over a fairly short time frame in order to arrive at a lofty blood alcohol level of 0.29%.) Needless to say, our cyclist was seriously impaired.
Based on these facts, the Commonwealth charged the young woman with driving under the influence of alcohol. The trial court dismissed the charges on the basis that the DUI provisions of the Motor Vehicle Code did not apply to bicycles, finding that bicycles are not “vehicles” for the purposes of the DUI statute. The prosecutors appealed this dismissal to the Pennsylvania Superior Court, which reversed the trial court, offering the following:
“Section 3731 [of the Vehicle Code] prohibits the driving or operating of a ‘vehicle’ while under the influence of alcohol. A bicycle clearly falls within the confines of that definition. It is a ‘device’ upon which a person or property may be ‘transported or drawn upon a highway,’ and it is not a device which is ‘used exclusively upon rails or tracks.’ A bicycle is clearly not a motor vehicle as it is a vehicle ‘which is propelled solely by human power.’ However, it is the operators of vehicles, not the operators of motor vehicles, who are regulated under Section 3731. Since Section 3731 applies to the operators of vehicles, and since the bicycle which appellee was riding falls within the definition of that term, the lower court erred in holding that appellee could not be prosecuted under Section 3731 for operating her bicycle while purportedly under the influence of alcohol.”The moral of this story is clear: bicycles should be ridden for the health benefits of fresh air and exercise. If your plan is to consume a large quantity of beer at your local taproom, walk or call a cab.— Kevin Palmer