Warmer weather means different things for everyone but it almost always means more outdoor activities. For some it simply means rolling down the windows on your way to work or opening up the car’s sunroof on the way out of the office. For others there are more intense lifestyle changes; for example, ditching the car completely.
Many folks look forward to the changing seasons simply because it means they can toss their helmets on and pedal their way to work. This leads to a few misconceptions about what happens, say, at an after-work happy hour. It seems that people in Minnesota are not altogether clear on the state laws regarding drinking and biking.
Before you begin pedaling home from the pub, here are the basics about intoxicated bicycling in Minnesota:
Minnesota Vehicle Laws
The laws in Minnesota that pertain to operating a “vehicle” do not include non-motorized vehicles. While cars, motorcycles, mopeds and any other vehicles that are powered by a motor are subject to the driving laws of Minnesota, a bicycle is not.
This means that the laws that define and restrict driving under the influence do not apply to anyone powering their own vehicle (i.e. a bicycle, a scooter, or roller skates). Bicycling under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not criminalized, nor is it a misdemeanor.
Minnesota Bicycle Laws
Despite avoiding DUI or DWI charges, cyclists in Minnesota are not exactly above the law. Anyone on a bicycle regardless of their level of intoxication can be cited for failure to obey all traffic laws. Cyclists must stop at stop signals, follow traffic signs, and follow the flow of traffic. Because cyclists are legally required to ride in the street, there are plenty of reasons an intoxicated cyclist may be “pulled over.”
While there is no crime for public drunkenness in Minnesota, there are enough citations someone could be given to make the risk seem less attractive. The law does provide exceptions for organized events involving bicycles, such as parades of contests.
Bicycling is a wonderful way to add exercise to your daily routine. Cycling daily helps reduce the number of pollutants in the air one person at a time. Bikes also help to cut down on traffic making everyone’s commute a bit smoother. Still, cycling can be dangerous and cycling under the influence could put you at risk of causing or being the victim of an accident.
Remember to wear reflective material and have a light on the front and back of your bike for dimly lit rides. Use signals to indicate to other drivers that you will be turning. As always, dressing appropriately will spare you a few bumps and bruises and lead to a more enjoyable ride. Loose or baggy clothing can get caught in pedals and chains and lead to an accident. Play it safe and together we can keep bicycling the efficient and fun commute that it is intended to be.
Our team at Kohlmeyer Hagen Law Offices wishes each of our neighborhood cyclists happy trails! And of course, if you are facing any other criminal charges, reach out to us immediately.