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RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES WHILE “UNDER THE INFLUENCE” CAN RESULT IN AN ARREST

Summer is almost here and after a year of lockdowns, we are all pretty eager to get outside and enjoy summer activities! Don’t ruin your summer fun with an arrest.

Here is a rundown on the most popular activities which you should keep in mind as you pull out the sunscreen and head to the great outdoors:

  • Bicycling under the influence. Yes DUI laws apply when you are on your bicycle. California Vehicle Code section 21200.5 makes it unlawful to operate a bicycle on a highway. A highway isn’t what you might think it is. The California statue defines a “highway” as “a way or place of whatever nature, publicly maintained and open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel.  Highway includes street.” (Vehicle Code §360.) A bike path on the beach or elsewhere or a publically maintained mountain bike trail easily fit within the definition. Even a sidewalk will fit within the parameters of the definition.
  • Boating under the influence. Every year, boat, Jet Ski operators, water skiers, even Duffy operators, get a shock when they are arrested for boating under the influence law. (Harbors and Navigation Code §655.) The law applies to any “mechanically propelled vessel.” Boating under the influence laws operate in much the same way as driving under the influence (DUI) laws and a boating under the influence conviction will count as a prior DUI.
  • Off-road ATV operation. An ATV is a motor vehicle and the DUI laws apply whether a motor vehicle is operated on or off-highway. (See definition of “highway” above.)

Generally speaking, the .08% blood alcohol content (BAC) limit that applies to vehicle DUIs also applies to the above activities. And keep in mind that the under the influence laws apply not only to under the influence of alcohol, but to under the influence of drugs as well.

Oftentimes an arrest under the circumstances discussed here are easier to defend than a DUI. Unlike a DUI where an officer often is able to establish probable cause to stop a vehicle (due to weaving, speeding, running a stop sign, and so on), probable cause to stop and detain a bicycler, a boater, or an ATVer may be more difficult to establish.

Assuming the operator hasn’t run into something, become involved in an accident, or engaged in another identifiable reason for law enforcement to stop the operator, there just aren’t many probable cause circumstances.  There are no stop signs (except perhaps for bicyclers), weaving may be part of the sport, there may be no speed limit, and there simply are not as many laws that pertain to motor vehicle drivers. This fact may provide the opportunity to challenge the arrest on lack of probable cause.

For example, if law enforcement’s stated reason for detaining a boater is that the boat was “weaving in a dangerous manner,” a DUI/BUI defense attorney can argue that such an observation did not establish the requisite probable cause to detain the boater.

Another defense, which is available on DUI also, is to challenge the BAC, especially when it registers close to the .08% threshold.

Summer fun often includes drinking and sometimes cannabis too. But just as you should never drive a motor vehicle while under the influence, you should abstain from bicycling, motor boating, and ATVing if you are under the influence. These activities can be just as dangerous and sometimes as deadly as driving under the influence.  But if your summer fun is interrupted by an under the influence arrest, DUI defense attorney William Weinberg can help. He offers a complimentary review of your case where he will advise you of your options and potential  defenses. He may be contacted at 949-474-8008 or by emailing him at bill@williamweinberg.com