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Bikes and beers: what the law has to say

Posted by: Matt McKinney Updated: June 12, 2013 - 6:07 PM

Earlier this week we here at the Star Tribune ran a story about beer and bikes. The short version: both are more popular than ever, and it's probably somewhat more likely that some bicyclists are pedaling inebriated. Interesting note: inebriated means you're either exhilarated or confused by alcohol, or act as if you are. So that covers a lot of territory.

At any rate, a lot of readers doubted one of the facts presented in the story, that fact being that you can't get arrested in Minnesota for drunk bicycling. A comment on our online story said, for example, that a simple review of case law would prove that you can, in fact, get arrested for drunk driving. That comment sounds pretty authoritative, until you realize it's wrong.

There's no law in Minnesota that prohibits biking drunk. says well-known attorney Douglas T. Kans, a guy who's spent nearly two decades arguing drunk driving cases in court.

"A bicycle, no, you can't have a DWI on a bicycle as long as there's no device on it that would make the thing run without human power," he said.

That's because the state's DWI law looks at motor vehicles, and under Minnesota law a motor vehicle is defined as something that moves without human power. As long as you're talking a traditional bicycle without an electric motor, there's no law to charge you with bicycling while drunk. OK?

Segway scooters are also exempt from the DWI law because, under state law, it's considered not a motor vehicle but an "electric personal assistive mobility device." Just like an electric wheelchair.

And finally, as long as we're just chatting, there's a list of things that will get you a DWI if you're caught riding them drunk. They include a horse (in Kentucky, at least), a La-Z-Boy lounge chair, a lawn mower or a Zamboni.

 

 

 

 

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