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Is it a crime to ride a bicycle when you are a little bit tipsy?

Can I ride my bike if I’m a little drunk?

Unfortunately, in many countries cyclists are in a so-called “gray zone” of national road codes: not quite pedestrians and definitely not drivers. The citizens themselves can get confused: a cyclist doesn’t need any license to ride a bicycle, so all these strict rules about drunk-driving and adhering to traffic rules don’t apply. Or do they?

The majority of cyclists aren’t aware of one simple fact, which is actually quite obvious. Everything that has wheels and moves on the road is essentially a road user. At least, in the Czech Republic. In this regard a cyclist isn’t very different from a car driver or a motorcyclists. But what exactly happens if you have a couple of beers, mount your trusty bicycle and go for a no-so-straight ride, and the police stops you? Well, they won’t withdraw your license or put you in jail, but you’ll definitely get a substantial fine and a good share of scolding.

What does the law say about it?

A person mounting a bicycle is considered to be a road user. Essentially, it means that a cyclist should follow the road regulations used in his or her country.

As for the Czech rules available at https://www.zakonyprolidi.cz/cs/2000-361#cast1-hlava1 , the article D(§2) of the road code goes as follows:

“řidič je účastník provozu na pozemních komunikacích, který řídí motorové nebo nemotorové vozidlo anebo tramvaj; řidičem je i jezdec na zvířeti

This is a definition of a road user and it reads: a road user is a person, who controls a motor or non-motor vehicle, including trams, on surface communications (roads and bridges); a person who rides an animal is also considered to be a road user. Therefore, a person who rides a bicycle is a road user by definition. As such, he or she bears a certain degree of responsibility.

What are the consequences of cycling under the influence and getting caught?

In case you got apprehended for riding a bicycle while intoxicated, you will most likely be fined. Czech road code states that if alcohol content under 1 per mille (ppm) is detected, a road user has to pay the fine of 2,500 ― 25,000 Czech crowns, if the level of alcohol is higher than 1 ppm, the fine may reach as much as 50,000 Czech crowns.

On the other hand, a cyclist can be so intoxicated, that he is considered dangerous to his own life and health or to the life and health of other road users and pedestrians. Sometimes drunk cycling can lead to substantial damage to other people’s property. If it is the case, the police officers will evaluate a cyclist’s irresponsible actions him accordingly: as a criminal, who endangered the lives of other people while being under the influence of addictive substances. And in this grave situation, the potential punishment will be imposed according to the severity of committed actions and terms of the Czech law codes ― which is for the court to decide

Please, be careful on the road and treat other road users and pedestrians with due respect ― in return, they will do the same for you. If you are riding along with the traffic, make sure you behave predictably. Don’t forget to inform the car drivers around you if you are going to turn ― it is for your own safety.

Of course, if you had a portion of alcohol beverage (no matter how small it was) please refrain from driving a bicycle, tram, horse, car, motorcycle or any other transport ― not because you risk to get fined, but because it is a fine example of good manners and caring for people around you. And also because we ask you kindly. 🙂

  • Nothing

    Thanks for the info!