A question I get sometimes from clients is “Can I be charged with D.W.I. in North Carolina while riding a bicycle?” The answer, unfortunately, is yes. You can be charged and convicted in the Great State of North Carolina for Driving While Impaired if you are impaired and riding a bicycle. Under the pertinent section of the law, NCGS 20-4.01 (49) North Carolina defines a vehicle as:
Vehicle. – Every device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, excepting devices moved by human power or used exclusively upon fixed rails or tracks; provided, that for the purposes of this Chapter bicycles shall be deemed vehicles and every rider of a bicycle upon a highway shall be subject to the provisions of this Chapter applicable to the driver of a vehicle except those which by their nature can have no application.
This term shall not include a device which is designed for and intended to be used as a means of transportation for a person with a mobility impairment, or who uses the device for mobility enhancement, is suitable for use both inside and outside a building, including on sidewalks, and is limited by design to 15 miles per hour when the device is being operated by a person with a mobility impairment, or who uses the device for mobility enhancement. This term shall not include an electric personal assistive mobility device as defined in G.S. 20‑4.01(7a).
Luckily, North Carolina can’t bust a person who is impaired on a horse. I guess the folks in Raleigh feel that the horse is probably not stupid enough to let its rider make it do something it knows better than to do. Interestingly, a lawnmower is another “vehicle” that can lead to a D.W.I. conviction in North Carolina. Food for thought.
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