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Motorcycle DUI Laws in California

In California, motorcycles are a common alternative to cars. Some individuals utilize them for traveling to their offices due of their fuel economy and maneuverability. Others simply enjoy riding a bike, because undoubtedly it is a fun vehicle to enjoy on the roads. Unfortunately, some bikers consume drugs or alcohol before hitting the road on their bikes. Perhaps, their actions are driven by a presumption that they are sober or that DUI rules applicable to four-wheelers do not apply to motorcyclists. Many times, the choice to bike under these circumstances may be fatal. If you have a bike in the garage or are planning to buy one, get acquainted with the facts about motorcycle DUI in California.

Motorcycles are Governed by the Same DUI Laws as Other Vehicles 

California Vehicle Code 23152 prohibits drunk driving and the consumption of narcotics prior to driving.  The statute additionally defines a vehicle as “a device by which any person or property may be driven, moved, or dragged onto a roadway, barring a device operated purely by human power or utilized exclusively by fixed rails or tracks.” The definition above considers motorcycles motor vehicles in California, and subject to the same DUI rules as applicable to other vehicles.

What Does This Imply for the Biker?

• A police officer may stop you over a probable cause.

• A policeperson isn’t required to establish proof of DUI to arrest a person; they only need to have a reasonable suspicion about it.

• You can have your license suspended, face a penalty of up to $1000 and up to 180 days in prison for your first conviction for riding a motorcycle under influence.   

• Subsequent DUI convictions can lead to penalties up to $1000, up to a year in prison and a license suspension for up to two years.

• If you injure or kill someone when driving under influence, you might face more stringent felony charges and significant jail sentences.

If you’re riding a motorbike in California, the law does not treat you any different from how it treats car owners under the scanner for DUI. Some individuals feel DUI standards are different for motorbikes since they potentially cause less harm or injury to others, however this belief is false.

The IID Alternative is Not Available to Motorcyclists

One notable distinction in the manner in which California approaches motorcycle DUI as compared to autos is that there is no present provision for interlock ignition devices (IID) on bikes. For some years, some courts have forced the IID installations on cars for repeat DUI convictions; last year, the state broadened its IID choice to enable those with even one DUI conviction to install these devices and prevent the loss of their license to drive. However, IIDs offer significant challenges when mounted on bikes, hence the state has not yet approved an IID it deems to be effective enough for use on motorcycles. While this rule may alter in future years, for now, motorcyclists aren’t offered the choice of an IID installation upon a DUI conviction.

Chances of “Probable Cause” are Higher with Motorcycles

Along with DUI checkpoints, a police officer must have “probable cause” to ask a vehicle to stop to check for DUI.  For vehicles and motorcycles, doubtful actions may include speeding, swerving, not remaining in the lane, not indicating a turn, “rolling stops,” etc. Once the policeperson has stopped you, he or she is trained to pick up further indicators of DUI such as unclear speech, loss of coordination or focus, etc.

However, authorities have more opportunity with motorcyclists to determine “probable cause” than with vehicle drivers, because they find it easier to look for signs of drunk driving with motorcyclists.

Apart from the tell-tale signs mentioned above, a police officer may consider a motorcycle DUI if:

• Your balance is bad when at a halt or riding slowly.

• You appear to have problems getting on the bike or dismounting from it. 

• You stop late on a curve.

• You demonstrate irregular conduct on the motorbike.

DUI-Related Injuries and Death are More for Motorcyclists

While California law regards motorcyclists virtually the same as vehicle drivers for DUI, the most important distinction is the heightened danger to the bike riders. The number of motorcycle deaths in America has climbed significantly over the last two decades—more than tripling between 1997 and 2018. While motorcyclists account for just 3 percent of highway traffic, they are responsible for up to 14 percent of traffic deaths. And among road deaths involving DUI, motorcyclists had the biggest percentage, at 28 percent. (23 percent for four-wheelers).

If these data sound depressing, California motorcycle mortality rates are significantly higher than the country’s rates, especially in southern California. Our state is in the top 15 nationally for motorcycle deaths, with motorcycles responsible for 15.1. percent of traffic-related deaths in the state. Liquor and drugs are also regarded key contributors to increased rates, as well as other causes including the fact that “lane splitting” and weaving through traffic are permissible for California motorcyclists.

What Does This Mean for You?

Motorbike riders in California are already at a higher risk for bodily harm or death.  If you chose to ride DUI, the hazards grow significantly. The State of California regards you the same as it considers car drivers, with the difference that you will not be eligible for a reduced penalty if you have an IID, and authorities may be able to see you more readily.

And despite the fact that you may be less capable of bringing harm or death to others, you are considerably more liable to injury or death yourself. If you are caught, a single ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs on a motorcycle could be your last.

If you have faced a recent arrest on motorcycle DUI charges, we can provide you with strong legal representation. Call our office now for a free first consultation.

Corpus Christi Criminal Defense Lawyer

Alex R. Hernandez Jr. PLLC is client-focused, results-driven, and wholly committed to achieving the best outcome possible for your criminal law case. He specializes in defending a wide variety of criminal offenses, including DUIs, drug crimes, white-collar crimes, domestic violence, federal crimes, and juvenile crimes.

Call 866-634-1092 for your free consultation today

Alex Aims To Prevent Your Criminal Offense From Defining Your Future.

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