Odd blog topic? Maybe, but these are the types of questions that get tossed out at the campfire while I was on a backpacking trip in Big South Fork recently. The answer is ‘No’, not in Tennessee. Unlike several other states, which prohibit the use or operation of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the DUI statute in Tennessee prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence.
So if you get lit and decide to drive your lawnmower home in Nashville? DUI.
Play ‘Edward Forty-Hands’ and then drive your moped home in Nashville? DUI.
Beer pong and a Bicycle? Probably a trip to the emergency room, and perhaps a ticket for public intoxication or a variety of other potential criminal offenses – but no DUI.
The two other states which were mentioned during our conversation were California and Louisiana. Certainly in California, given the large numbers of people who populate near the beaches and others who use bicycles as a common means of transportation – riding a bicycle while under the influence of intoxicants poses a danger not only to the rider, but a very serious safety issue with respect to everyone around. The law including all forms of vehicles is much more understandable. The law in Louisiana is essentially the same as California, which was particularly surprising. See below for a brief comparison of DUI laws in California, Louisiana and Tennessee.
California DUI law (in part):
Driving Under Influence of Alcohol or Drugs
23152. (a) It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.
Louisiana DUI law: […]the crime of operating a vehicle while intoxicated is the operating of any motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, vessel, or other means of conveyance[…] (Clarification on the Louisiana DUI law found here)
I also noted in an article that there may in fact be laws specific to cycling in California, which could be another means of getting a DUI, or similar offense.
Tennessee DUI Law:
55-10-401. Driving under the influence of intoxicant, drug or drug producing stimulant prohibited — Alcohol concentration in blood or breath.
(a) It is unlawful for any person to drive or to be in physical control of any automobile or other motor driven vehicle on any of the public roads and highways of the state, or on any streets or alleys, or while on the premises of any shopping center, trailer park or any apartment house complex, or any other premises that is generally frequented by the public at large, while:
(1) Under the influence of any intoxicant, marijuana, controlled substance, drug, substance affecting the central nervous system or combination thereof that impairs the driver’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle by depriving the driver of the clearness of mind and control of himself which he would otherwise possess; or
(2) The alcohol concentration in the person’s blood or breath is eight-hundredths of one percent (.08 %) or more.
Disclaimer: This article is in no way suggesting riding a bicycle is a safe or suggested means of transportation if you have been drinking. Safest route home: call a cab. If you are arrested for DUI in Nashville, call an experienced DUI or criminal attorney. This article is also not intended as legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Always engage a Nashville attorney to discuss your legal dilemma or answer your legal questions.