Unusual DUIs: Planes, Boats, Bicycles
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) / Drunk Driving cases involving motorcycles, boats, vessels, aircraft and bicycles are separate offenses under California law. Each offense carries significant consequences, but can be successfully challenged by a California defense attorney who is well-versed in defending DUI charges involving motorcycles, vessels, aircraft and bicycles will develop an aggressive strategy to fight each charge. Challenging DUI cases involving motorcycles, vessels, aircraft and bicycles can be done in much the same way as cases for driving cars under the influence of drugs or alcohol while intoxicated can be challenged.
How a “vehicle” is defined varies from state to state. The California Vehicle Code defines “vehicle” as “A device by which any person or property may be propelled, moved, or drawn upon a highway, excepting a device moved exclusively by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.” This includes automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, mopeds, scooters, and bulldozers.
Motorcycling under the influence is very similar to drunk-driving cases involving other passenger vehicles, and is charged under the same statutes. A motorcycling under the influence arrest generates two separate cases – in criminal court, and at the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Like others arrested for driving under the influence, motorcyclists arrested for DUI must request a DMV Hearing within 10 days of arrest. If a hearing is not requested, the DMV will begin the process of automatically suspending the motorcyclist’s license.
At an APS hearing, the DMV need only establish by a preponderance of the evidence – the lowest standard in law – that a police officer had a reason to believe the motorcyclist was intoxicated, that the arrest was lawful, and that the motorcyclist had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or greater. If those facts are proven, the motorcyclist will lose his or her driver’s license.
Motorcyclists face the same types of court punishment meted out to other drunk drivers – jail time, fines, alcohol education classes, probation, etc. Prosecution evidence will include the motorcyclist’s chemical test results, field sobriety tests, and driving patterns before the arrest was made.
Boating under the influence, or BUI / BWI, falls under California’s Harbors and Navigation Code, which defines being under the influence as having a BAC of .08 percent for recreational vessels and .04 percent for commercial craft. The statute sets a zero tolerance for craft such as aquaplanes and water skis, meaning that the user cannot ingest any alcohol at all.
A boating under the influence conviction carries serious penalties, including jail time and fines. Individuals facing a charge of boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs should consult with a California DUI attorney experienced in defending similar cases.
Flying any aircraft, either commercial or private, under the influence of alcohol or drugs (FUI / FWI) is a serious allegation. Pilots who fly under the influence can be charged under federal and/or state law, and the potential penalties are severe. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) strictly regulates the consumption of alcohol by crew members of any civil aircraft. Under the FAA’s rules, no one may act as a crew member if he or she has consumed alcohol within eight hours of a flight, is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .04 percent or greater. A pilot or crew member found to be in violation of any of these regulations faces imprisonment, fines, and revocation of his or her pilot’s license.
An implied consent law similar to the rules governing vehicles on the ground applies to pilots of civil aircraft. Implied consent means that a pilot arrested for being under the influence of alcohol or drugs must take a chemical test upon request. A pilot who refuses a chemical test risks a substantial fine and suspension or revocation of his or her pilot’s license.
A drunk driving conviction also may threaten a pilot’s flying privileges. DUI convictions must be reported to the FAA on the pilot’s first class medical application, and to the Civil Action Security Division in Oklahoma City. This notification must be made within 60 days of the driving under the influence conviction.
Cycling under the influence (CUI) is a less serious offense than drunk-driving accusations, but there’s no reason not to fight the charges. A CUI conviction in California can result in a fine of $250 – considerably less than the punishment for driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol.
A bicycle doesn’t fit the definition of a vehicle in California, and therefore is not covered by the usual laws governing drunk driving. However, the California Vehicle Code has a separate provision covering bicycles that states that it is unlawful to ride a bicycle on a highway while intoxicated.
One way to attack a CUI charge is to challenge whether the cyclist was in fact riding on a “highway”. Although the definition of highway includes public streets, it doesn’t cover private roads and driveways.
Just like drunk-driving cases involving other vehicles, charges of riding a motorcycle, boating, flying or riding a bicycle under the influence of alcohol or drugs are serious accusations that carry heavy potential consequences. However, each of these offenses can be successfully challenged in court. A skilled California criminal defense attorney with experience defending BUI, motorcycling under the influence, FUI / FWI and bicycling while intoxicated cases can provide expert legal representation and keep negative consequences to a minimum.