Beyond Drunk Driving: Legal Implications for Non-Motorized Vehicle Operators

Since drunk driving can lead to an accident and/or arrest, many people believe riding their bicycles instead is enough to avoid facing criminal charges or hurting someone else. However, that is not entirely true.First, you cannot get charged for a DWI in New York for cycling while intoxicated. The law specifically applies to only “motor” vehicles, such as cars, trucks, boats, trains, and airplanes. Unless you install a motor in your bicycle, if you are riding a bike, skateboard, or any other non-motorized vehicle under the influence, you don’t have to worry about getting pulled over. But just because you cannot get arrested for a DWI doesn’t mean you are completely free of criminal liability. 
There are two criminal charges drunk bikers may likely face: public intoxication and reckless endangerment. Although it is not a crime to be drunk in public in New York, you can be charged with public intoxication due to drugs if you pose a danger to yourself, others, or property, or if you annoy others. A conviction for public intoxication is punishable by a maximum 15-day jail term and a fine no more than $250.Reckless endangerment means acting in a manner that creates a significant risk of injury or death with a “depraved indifference to human life.”
Unlike most criminal offenses where the court must prove intent, a conviction for reckless endangerment requires a substantial degree of recklessness in a defendant’s actions – even though the act was not intentional. First-degree reckless endangerment means recklessly performing an act that creates a grave risk of death to someone else. This type of reckless endangerment is a Class D felony offense, which carries a maximum prison sentence of seven years. Second-degree reckless endangerment means recklessly doing something that creates a significant risk of serious physical injury to another individual. This offense is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a jail sentence of up to one year.
If you are facing criminal charges for biking while intoxicated in Albany, contact O’Brien & Eggleston PLLC and get 25 years of combined experience on your side today. Schedule a free consultation! 

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