State DUI Laws: When the Thin Blue Line is Greyed

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) reports over 10,000 people die in the United State every year as a result of drunk driving. reports around 900,000 people are arrested every year for driving under the influence. The numbers are universal. It’s apparent how dangerous it is to drink and operate a vehicle, but different states have different interpretations of the word vehicle.

In Alabama and Alaska bicycles are considered vehicles. In Arizona, Arkansas and California they aren’t, but they are in Colorado. That means in the states that consider a bicycle a vehicle, you can get arrested for driving under the influence for riding a bicycle with a blood/alcohol above the state’s legal limit.

However, just because a state doesn’t consider a bicycle a vehicle doesn’t mean you can’t get a ticket for riding one over the legal limit. Some states have DUI laws for vehicles and ”others,” Iowa for example. In July, the Star Advisor reported that the Honolulu Police Department gave citations topolice car skateboarders riding under the influence.

Every state has strict BUI laws a person must understand before they can pass a boat license test, but the legal ramifications of operating a boat under the influence are equally difficult to assume from state to state. For example, if a state refuses to take custody of a person after they are arrested by the Coast Guard for BUI, they can be tried in a federal court.

Regardless of the irregularities, one thing is certain: both state and federal policy makers are taking boating under the influence more seriously after statistics showed that from 2000 until 2010 the number of boating accidents associated with alcohol consumption rose almost 5 percent.

DUI laws can be confusing from state to state and vehicle to vehicle, to say the least. So, as opposed to trying to figure out what it is and isn’t against the law, it is better to understand what motorized or mechanized vehicles aren’t safe to operate under the influence.

Motorized Vehicles

There simply aren’t any motor vehicles that are safe to drive under the influence. The problem is, four standard drinks (each containing 10 grams of pure alcohol) can slow your response between 10 and 30 percent, meaning it could take you over a second to react, according to the National Institute of Higher Education. At 30 miles an hour, you are traveling 44 feet per second. So, to react and avoid an obstacle that appears suddenly, the obstacle must be more that 44 feet in front of you in order for you to avoid it.

Mechanized Vehicles

While safer for others, operating a mechanized vehicle under the influence of alcohol can be even more dangerous for you than operating a motor vehicle because they generally provide no protection in case of an accident— bicycles, skateboards and roller blades for example. Since the same reaction and speed rules apply and considering the fact that many mechanized vehicles can reach top speeds well beyond 30 miles an hour, operating a mechanized vehicle under the influence is extremely dangerous.

Unmechanized Vehicles

Most unmechanized vehicles like kayaks, rafts and gliders are inherently dangerous enough that they would seem to inherently detour people from operating them under the influence. However, every year there are accidents on rivers and in the sky that involve the consumption of alcohol that make national news.


In an effort to explain exactly what vehicles it is not only unsafe but illegal to operate under the influence of alcohol, famed DUI attorney Gill Cochran offers tips on what courts consider to be motor vehicles on his website. He includes zambonis, toboggans, motorized barstools, balloons, camels, Barbie Power Wheels, elephants and the Cruizin’ Cooler.