Robert R. Hart, Jr., Attorney at Law
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Do OVI laws apply to bicycles in Ohio?

What do you think of when someone mentions DUI, or OVI as it's called here in Ohio? If you are like most people, you probably envision a motor vehicle such as a passenger vehicle, motorcycle or truck pulled over and a driver participating in field sobriety tests with the flashing lights of the patrol car in his or her eyes. If you are a boating enthusiast, you may even know that boating under the influence is a thing.

However, did you know that there is one other type of vehicle on which you could face arrest for OVI? Believe it or not, you could face drunk driving charges if you ride your bicycle while impaired.

Why would riding a bicycle drunk be illegal?

Granted, a bicycle isn't nearly as big, fast or powerful as a motor vehicle, but that doesn't mean that riders don't pose a danger to themselves or others on the road. For instance, if a bicyclist fails to pay attention and drifts into traffic, other vehicles could crash in an attempt to avoid striking the bicycle. In addition, pedestrians could suffer serious injuries if hit by a bike ridden by someone impaired by alcohol or drugs.

A drunk bicyclist exhibits the same characteristics of impairment as any other drunk driver. Their judgment, ability to react and maintain focus all suffer in the same ways. Unlike some other states, Ohio does not exclude bicycles in its definition of a vehicle when it comes to OVI laws.

Were you arrested for DUI on your bicycle?

If an officer stops you on your bicycle on suspicion of impairment, you may go through the same roadside testing as any other driver does. If you "fail" these tests, you could find yourself under arrest for OVI and face the same penalties as well. As such, you may want to treat this charge just as seriously.

You may be able to make the same challenges to the charges as well. The officer must present evidence of reasonable suspicion for stopping you and probable cause for arresting you. If the officer failed to follow proper procedures or somehow violated your rights during the incident, that could affect the outcome of your case. Only a thorough review of the circumstances can reveal potential defense strategies.

Knowing what to look for and understanding how to deal with the charges often requires the advice and assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you find yourself in this situation, you would more than likely benefit from making use of local legal resources.

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