A vacationer from Tennessee recently encountered Florida law enforcement in an unusual way: he was apprehended for allegedly riding a bicycle under the influence of alcohol.
This incident occurred on the scenic Sanibel Island, sparking controversy as the news of the bicyclist's DUI charge spread.
Sanibel's police force reported the arrest on the night of April 14, having noticed the cyclist due to his lack of illumination. Their official statement read:
"The suspect was a male individual cycling on a public road without any front or rear lighting. Further investigation led to his arrest on DUI charges. He was subsequently transported to the Lee County Jail where it was found that his breath alcohol content level was more than double the legal limit."
The man in question, a 56-year-old visiting from Maryville, Tennessee, was formally charged, according to the police. Judicial records indicate that he was incarcerated just past 1 a.m. on April 15 and was granted release the following day after posting a $1,500 bond.
Legal experts confirm that in Florida, being charged with DUI while cycling is indeed possible.
"Bicycles are subject to Florida Statute 316.2065," says People Powered Movement, a group advocating for cyclists.
"This crucial law highlights that cyclists possess 'all of the rights and duties applicable to the driver of any vehicle under this chapter', barring certain exceptions. However, DUI isn't one of those exceptions. This implies that cyclists... must adhere to the same laws as motorists."
The penalties are identical as well, which can include imprisonment, license suspension, and vehicle impoundment, the group adds.
The news of this unusual arrest sparked a heated debate on social media. Some decried the charge as "excessive" and even offered to cover the man's bail.
One flabbergasted commenter on Facebook expressed, "Really?!!! Now I have heard it all."
Another individual reminisced, "I remember when drunk driving on bikes and lawnmowers, etc. made the funny news section. Now, it’s a thing. Charge him with public intoxication, not DUI."
An Explanation of Florida Statute 316.2065
Florida Statute 316.2065 pertains to Bicycle Regulations in the state of Florida. This law outlines the various rules and obligations that bicyclists must adhere to when operating on public roadways in Florida. It covers areas such as:
1. Seating: For example, it states that a bicycle may not be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed or equipped.
2. Riding on roadways and bicycle paths: According to the law, every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride in the lane marked for bicycle use.
3. Carrying articles: No person operating a bicycle shall carry any package, bundle, or article which prevents the rider from keeping at least one hand upon the handlebars.
4. Lighting: The law also details requirements for bicycle lights and reflectors when in use between sunset and sunrise.
5. DUI: Importantly for the question at hand, this statute makes clear that a bicyclist is subject to all of the same DUI laws as a driver of a motor vehicle. This is stated in the law as follows: "Every person propelling a vehicle by human power has all of the rights and all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle under this chapter."
This is a brief overview of some aspects of Florida Statute 316.2065. You can find the full text of Florida Statute 316.2065 here.