Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Drunkards on Bikes

Not that I condone such behavior, but I've tried to convince friends, bartenders, family and others that riding a bike drunk in Washington does not carry a penalty and that the police can offer you a ride, but you can refuse it.

People typically don't believe me.

Someone did the work on another bike list and found the RCW:

RCW 46.61.790
Intoxicated bicyclists.
(1) A law enforcement officer may offer to transport a bicycle rider who appears to be under the influence of alcohol or any drug and who is walking or moving along or within the right of way of a public roadway, unless the bicycle rider is to be taken into protective custody under RCW
70.96A.120. The law enforcement officer offering to transport an intoxicated bicycle rider under this section shall:
(a) Transport the intoxicated bicycle rider to a safe place; or
(b) Release the intoxicated bicycle rider to a competent person.
(2) The law enforcement officer shall not provide the assistance offered if the bicycle rider refuses to accept it. No suit or action may be commenced or prosecuted against the law enforcement officer, law enforcement agency, the state of Washington, or any political subdivision of the state for any act resulting from the refusal of the bicycle rider to accept this assistance.
(3) The law enforcement officer may impound the bicycle operated by an intoxicated bicycle rider if the officer determines that impoundment is necessary to reduce a threat to public safety, and there are no reasonable alternatives to impoundment. The bicyclist will be given a written notice of when and where the impounded bicycle may be reclaimed. The bicycle may be reclaimed by the bicycle rider when the bicycle rider no longer appears to be intoxicated, or by an individual who can establish ownership of the bicycle. The bicycle must be returned without payment of a fee. If the bicycle is not reclaimed within thirty days, it will be subject to sale or disposal consistent with agency procedures.

So there's that. I guess the logic is that you're not such a treat to public safety. You may kill yourself, but a guy on a bike is not likely going to kill a bunch of people by plowing through a crowded market or something.

I'm no lawyer, but once again, if you're looking for yet another reason to travel by bike on Friday night, perhaps this is it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've heard a crazy urban tale circulating among some very bikey people that you can get a DUI for riding a multi-speed bike while drunk, but that you're immune from such an offense on a fixed-gear bike.

According to the RCW this is false, of course, and try as I might, I can't find any reference at all to intoxicated cyclists in the Spokane municipal code.

It's got to be a rumor spread by fixie kids trying to convince everywhere of the inherent cooler-than-thouness of fixed gears. They for got to mention, though, that riding fixed will also re-grow hair and whiten your teeth :)