Monday, January 16, 2017

Is Riding Under the Influence Against the Law?

In Pennsylvania, riding a bicycle while intoxicated is treated nearly the same as driving while intoxicated. So you can be pulled over on your bike and cited for riding while intoxicated. You might even be charged with public intox, disorderly conduct, and a host of fines.

The Motor Vehicle Code states that if you're riding a bicycle (with no engine) upon the roadway, you are considered to be operating a "pedacycle," and a pedacycle is a "vehicle." But note that a bicycle is NOT a MOTOR vehicle. The distinction between a “vehicle” and “motor vehicle” is important because the operator of a pedacycle is subject to prosecution for “driving under the influence” of alcohol or other controlled substances. However, because a pedacycle is not a “motor vehicle,” the implied consent law (under which motor vehicle operators are deemed to have given consent to one or more chemical tests of breath, blood, or urine for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content of blood) is not applicable to cyclists. Also, evidence of the consumption of alcohol by a cyclist is inadmissible at trial as unfairly prejudicial, unless the evidence reasonably establishes intoxication. Evidence of intoxication for a cyclist includes, but is not limited to, objective criteria such as staggering, stumbling, slurred speech, or erratic operation of the bike.

If you're going to have a few drinks, its probably best to leave the bike chained up and call an Uber.

But keep in mind that a horse is not a vehicle! In the case of Noel v. Travis, Justice Eakin took some liberty with his dissenting opinion, arguing that the appellant should have been found guilty for riding a horse while intoxicated. He explained:

A horse is a horse, of course, of course,
And no one can talk to a horse of course
That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mr. Ed.

Go right to the source and ask the horse
He’ll give you the answer that you’ll endorse.
He’s always on a steady course. Talk to Mr. Ed.

A horse is a horse, of course, of course,
but the Vehicle Code does not divorce
its application from, perforce,
a steed, as my colleagues said.

“It’s not vague” I’ll say until I’m hoarse,
and whether a car, a truck or horse
this law applies with equal force,
and I’d reverse instead.
Because I cannot agree this statute is vague or ambiguous, I respectfully dissent.

Noel v. Travis, 857 A.2d 1283, 1289 (Pa. 2004).

Be safe out there and thanks for reading.

Matthew F. Dolfi, Esquire

Dolfi Law PC

1100 Washington Avenue, Suite 206
Carnegie, Pennsylvania 15106


Facebook page:


Important notice:
The information provided in this blog article is not legal advice.  The information and opinions provided herein are solely for the general interest of the visitors to this website.  The information contained herein is only applicable to general principles of law in Pennsylvania and may not reflect current legal developments or statutory changes in various other jurisdictions.  Therefore, the information and opinions contained in this blog should not be relied upon or interpreted as legal advice.  No aspect of this blog article should be interpreted as establishing an attorney-client relationship between the reader and its author.  Anyone reviewing this article should not act upon any information contained herein without first seeking the advice of legal counsel.  

Search terms: Bicycle accident cases and lawsuits, Bicycle collisions, Bicycle safety, Bike accident lawsuits, Bike accidents, Bike collisions, Risks for bicycle riders, accident attorney, accident lawyer, bicycle, bicycle accident laws, bicycle accident, bicycle accident attorney, bicycle risks, bicycle safety, bike accident, cycling, defective road conditions, dangerous roads, dangerous streets, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Matthew F. Dolfi, Matt Dolfi, Pittsburgh Bike Lawyer, Pittsburgh Bike Accident, lawyer-cyclist, The Lawyer Cyclist, dolfilaw, Dolfi Law PC


  1. I enjoyed reading your article :) PLease continue publishing helpful topics like this. Regards, from I think this article will fully complement your article.

  2. The law workplaces of Doelger Law have two Long Island areas: Garden City in Nassau County and Melville in Suffolk County. Our fender bender lawyers are constantly accessible for a free counsel. Get in touch with Us or call (631) 448-5600 to address a Hempstead legal advisor now!

    Car Accident Lawyer Glen Cove

  3. Yale Pollack P.C are business legal advisors speaking to laborers in New York City and Long Island. From lewd behavior to separation and countering to unpaid wages and additional time, our lawyers are experienced, forceful, and prepared to battle for your rights.

    Labor Lawyer Long Island

  4. Looking for a top divorce lawyer in Suffolk County NYC? James Picarello, LLP Prenuptial and Separation Agreements lawyers also handle child support, child custody, uncontested & Spousal Support Law. We recognize that divorce is one of the most stressful situations anyone can be involved in. Our attorneys have a solid history of brief arrangements.

    Uncontested Divorce Lawyer Islandia

  5. Top Rated Matrimonial, Divorce and family law attorneys in Brooklyn NY at The Louis Law Firm, PLLC Can Handle all types of Flaw Law issues including Contested Divorce, Separation agreement and Child Support Cases. Our team works tirelessly, from our numerous locations in Brooklyn NY Call us today at 1 (3476)897-562.

    Separation agreement lawyer Brooklyn