The "BUI" is a Myth

Have you ever found yourself downtown on the weekend, seen people on their bikes, and wondered, can you get cited for biking under the influence?

Well the City of Tucson has spoken, and NO, they say, you can't get a DUI on a bike, or a BUI, if you will.

"We do not have, and there is not in existence, any state law that would allow for the arrest of a bicyclist for a DUI offense," said Tucson Police Department PIO Maria Hawke. "Drunk or sober, if we pull over a bicyclist for some reason we would look at any traffic violations." That is, Hawke said, excepting Minor in Possession charges, which would be independent of the bicycle anyway.

This all goes back to the bike's strange legal definition, of having all the responsibilities, but not the label of being a vehicle, said Eric Ryberg, local bike lawyer and blogger. "If you parse it out exactly, it's unlawful for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle [while intoxicated]," Ryberg said. "Bicycles are explicitly not vehicles under our code."

And though there was some initial squabbling at the city attorney's office as to whether the BUI was real, Baird Greene, deputy city attorney of Tucson, has put that to rest as well.

"Vehicles exclude devices moved by human power," Greene said. "In order for someone to commit a DUI, they have to be driving a vehicle."

So for the time, Tucsonans are free to drink to their merriment and get behind two wheels without fear of getting a DUI—but they're still susceptible to every other citation: speeding, missing stop signs, impeding the flow of traffic, or any other civil or moving violations that apply. Those are laws bikes must follow anyway.

Not to mention you could hurt yourself, Ryberg said.

"It' s pretty dumb to ride a bicycle while you're drunk," Ryberg said, mentioning some of the gruesome accidents he's heard of, including losing teeth. "It seems like a great idea in that it prevents you from driving your car home, but it's not necessarily a good idea if it causes you to ride your bike home [drunk]."

Bike at your own risk!