Drinking & Biking – The Law and Dangers
If you decide to drink, do not bike. However, if you choose to ignore this advice, it is important to know how you might be affected both criminally and civilly.
Bicycles are considered “vehicles” (not “motor vehicles”) under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act. Therefore, intoxicated cyclists can be convicted of careless driving. Intoxicated cyclists can also be convicted of public drunkenness under the Liquor License Act. Further, drunken cyclists can see serious jail time if they harm other road users or pedestrians. Bicycles are not “motor vehicles” under the Criminal Code. However, there is nothing preventing the police from charging an intoxicated cyclist with criminal negligence.
Civilly, it is negligent to bike while intoxicated. If a drunken cyclist harms another road user or pedestrian, that cyclist will likely be liable for some or all of that person’s damages. Auto insurance will not respond to these claims. In some cases, these cyclists will be protected by a homeowner’s policy. However, where there is no insurance, drunken cyclists might have to pay damages personally. They will need to pay out of pocket to defend and pay the claim.
In short, do not drink and bike. It is dangerous and could result in severe criminal and civil consequences.
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