Riding Sober and Legal Responsibilities

Sep 14, 2012 View Comments by

In previous articles, I’ve talked about the dangers of riding after consuming alcohol. Not only does it put your life and the lives of others in jeopardy, but it also can bury you in a legal mess if you cause an accident while under the influence. Do you know the legal issues you could face if you’re caught riding drunk? What if you injure someone else?

Riding a motorcycle can present challenges for even the most experienced riders. There are always hazards to be aware of—from road hazards to distracted motorists and animals darting out in front of you. Consuming alcohol reduces reaction time, impairs judgment, and impedes coordination and balance.

A large percentage of the motorcycle crashes that occur nationally every year involve alcohol, particularly, fatal collisions. That’s why nearly every state has a legal Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limit of .08 for operating a motorcycle.

How Much Alcohol is Too Much?

There are three main factors that determine your BAC—the amount of alcohol you consume, how fast you drink, and your body weight. Other factors include taking medication, your sex, physical condition, and how much food is in your body when you drink.

Many motorcyclists assume that beer has less alcohol than a mixed drink or wine. The truth is that a 12 oz. can of beer, a 5 oz. glass of wine, or a mixed drink with one shot of liquor all contain about the same amount of alcohol. Additionally, the amount of alcohol in your system increases as you consume alcohol more quickly. For example, if you consume two drinks within an hour, at least one drink will remain in your system at the end of the hour.

Legal Issues Associated With Riding a Motorcycle Under the Influence

  • Motorcyclists who are convicted of riding under the influence may face jail time, fines, license suspension, community service, or other penalties depending on the state DUI laws where they are caught. Convicted bikers may also have to undergo an alcohol and drug rehabilitation treatment program.
  • If you own a motorcycle and allow a person who has been drinking to ride it, and that person gets into an accident, you may be liable for damages based on negligence.
  • If you ride drunk and injure a passenger, you can be held liable for their injuries, as well as injuries to any other drivers or vehicle passengers.

The smartest way to avoid injuring yourself and others, prevent legal hassles, and protect your wallet is to always ride sober. Enjoy appetizers at a Bike Night instead of alcohol. Visit this link for more motorcycle safety tips.

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About the author

Attorney Michael H. Rosenzweig has over 20 years of experience helping bikers injured in motorcycle accidents. He is a partner and litigation manager at Edgar Snyder & Associates. The Edgar Snyder & Associates Harley-Davidson makes appearances at bike nights and rallies throughout the riding season.