Can You Get a DWI on a Bicycle in Missouri?

Can you be arrested on DWI charges for riding your bicycle while intoxicated? According to the law, operating a vehicle while intoxicated is grounds for a DWI arrest in Missouri. However, the definition of a “vehicle” is quite specific. 


Continue reading to find out if you can get a DWI while riding a bicycle in Missouri.

State and Local Legislation

State and local laws determine the ability to get a DWI while riding a bike or scooter. 


It is important to note that this is a rapidly evolving area of law in response to the new modes of electric transportation that continue to appear on our streets and sidewalks daily.


What Is the Meaning of “Under the Influence?”

In general, a person commits a DWI offense if they drive on a Missouri highway or street with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of.08% or higher or are under the influence of (impaired by) alcohol or a controlled substance.


Missouri Statutes

The statute in Missouri states that a driver is guilty of DWI if they operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated. As a result, a bike would be exempt from this law. That is not to say that it could not be a violation of a local ordinance, however.


Scooters and mopeds are considered motor vehicles in Missouri. If the scooter is motorized, has an automatic transmission, a cylinder capacity of less than 50 cubic centimeters (commonly referred to as “cc’s”), and a top speed of 30 miles per hour, a driver’s license is required to operate the vehicle, and it may be subject to the DUI law. In fact, drivers of Bird or Lime electric scooters in Kansas City have received DWIs.


What Would Cause a Police Officer to Suspect Someone of Riding a Bike While Intoxicated?

A police officer will have sufficient reason to stop a person to determine sobriety if they are swerving between lanes on the road, biking erratically, and appearing distracted. The officer will most likely request that the individual perform field sobriety tests and a breathalyzer test to determine BAC levels.

Why Is it Dangerous to Ride a Bike Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs?

Because everyone reacts differently to alcohol, drugs, or prescription medication, a cyclist who consumes any of these substances is more likely to ride dangerously. 


Whether a person has one or more drinks and then decides to ride their bike home, they risk their safety.


It is important to remember that while a bicycle is not operated in the same way as an automobile, a cyclist under the influence can still cause a serious accident. 


When cars swerve out of the way to avoid hitting someone biking while intoxicated, the bicyclist and other drivers on the road may be injured.


Where on the Road Can You Bike in Missouri?

When you’re out and about, it’s always a good idea to know where you can ride your bike. 


When it comes to where to ride, Missouri is no different than any other state. The expectation is that cyclists will stay on the right side of the road as far as possible, considering things like gutters, debris, and shoulders. 


However, the law allows cyclists to move to the middle or left side of the road if necessary:

  • When taking a left
  • When there is only a right turn lane and the cyclist is traveling straight
  • When the lane is too narrow for two vehicles to share
  • When avoiding dangers


Missouri does not require cyclists to use designated bike lanes or bike paths. It is, however, illegal to ride two abreast when it may obstruct traffic.


Shoulder riding is permissible but not required.


You’ll notice that this is all vague in terms of when you can and cannot ride to the right, so for your own safety when riding in traffic, we recommend that you ride far to the right whenever possible.


Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as cars and trucks, which means they must obey traffic signals and keep an eye out for danger.


Missouri also lacks a minimum safe distance law between cars and bikes; 300.411 and 304.678 only states that a motor vehicle should maintain a safe distance from cyclists.


Missouri driver manuals include advice for motorists, such as giving plenty of space, not underestimating cyclist speed, and checking for oncoming cyclists before opening the car door. 


It’s also important to remember that cyclists are more likely to turn into the middle or left lane to avoid debris on their side. Hence, Missouri works hard to educate drivers about cyclist rights to keep everyone safe.


Municipal law cannot conflict with state law but can be used to fill gaps. These gaps could include riding on the sidewalk, wearing helmets, or having safety gear that goes above and beyond what the state requires.


It is critical to understand municipal law wherever you plan to cycle.


Except in business districts, cyclists are permitted to ride on the sidewalk.


When passing, cyclists must yield to pedestrians and give a signal.


Motorized bicycles are not permitted on sidewalks. 


Missouri follows the Idaho Stop, which states that if a stopped cyclist’s red light does not change after a reasonable amount of time, it is legal to run the red light if there is no approaching traffic that would impede it.


Missouri is one of the few states that does this, and it’s a way to keep traffic moving when the light sensors wouldn’t detect it otherwise. Bikes are frequently too light for traffic lights’ motion sensors to detect.


Missouri Biking Safety Requirements

Bikes must be outfitted with a variety of basic safety equipment to be legal to ride.


Brakes must be capable of stopping the bike within twenty-five feet at ten miles per hour on dry, level, clean pavement.


Missouri law also establishes some requirements for lights and reflectors. 


They must be turned on between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise. The front-facing lamp must emit a white light visible from 500 feet away, and the rear-facing lamp must be visible from 600 feet away (no stipulation on color).


There must also be reflective material or lights visible from the front and back of the cyclist, crank arms, shoes, or lower leg visible from the front and back, visible at 200 feet, and reflective material or lights visible from each side of the bicycle at 300 feet. 


The bike must be completely equipped for safety, but Missouri makes no requirement that riders wear helmets. It is perfectly legal for any rider, regardless of age, to ride without a helmet. However, we still recommend that you wear one because they save lives.


Electric Bicycle Rules in Missouri

Electric bikes are legally recognized in Missouri, and the state is slightly more generous with them. 


Electric bikes are two or three-wheeled vehicles with an automatic transmission, a motor of less than 750W, and a top speed of 30mph on level ground. 


Missouri does not require licensing, registration, or insurance; however, electric bikes are classified as motor vehicles in Missouri for insurance purposes.


Helmets are required for all electric bike riders, regardless of age, unlike regular bikes. 


Electric bikes, like bicycles, can be ridden on roadways where the posted speed limit is less than the traveling speed of the bike (this implies that you cannot ride it on roads where the posted speed limit is greater than 30 mph, so be cautious). 


Electric bicycles should be ridden as far to the right as possible.


Missouri has several laws that aim to make bicycling as safe as possible while allowing people to do whatever they want on their bikes. While helmets and DUIs are optional, we strongly advise you to ride sober and protected.


You should also check municipal laws, as there may be additional bylaws on top of state law meant to work harmoniously. If you are cautious and thoughtful on the road, you can ride in Missouri for as long as you want.


What Are the Fines, Jail Time, and Other Penalties for a DWI on a Bike?

A DWI conviction in most places carries fines ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, possible jail time of up to a year (or more if it’s a felony DWI), and license suspension (from about six months to several years in most cases). 


DWI offenders may also be required to serve probation, undergo a substance abuse evaluation and treatment, and install an ignition interlock device (IID).


Although some penalties (such as license suspension and the requirement to install an IID) aren’t directly related to riding a bike, most states don’t distinguish between motor vehicles and bike DWIs in terms of penalties.


Is it Possible to Get a DWI in “Other” Non-Standard Vehicles?

There are numerous other types of vehicles that will fall under DWI law.

Among these are:

  • ATVs
  • Golf carts
  • Bikes with motors
  • Lawn mowers on wheels


While many of these vehicles are not necessarily highway-approved, they are now widely used in local communities. For example, retirement communities and even some smaller cities permit the use of golf carts on local roads as long as they are licensed and registered.


Tips for Staying Safe while Biking in Missouri

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind to ensure your own and others’ safety:

  • Don’t drink and ride your bike or scooter. Use the same caution that you would if you were driving a car.
  • Wear a helmet at all times. While it is not required in all jurisdictions, it is the single most important piece of safety equipment you can have when riding a bike or scooter.
  • Check that your bike or scooter is in good working order.
  • Make yourself visible to drivers and pedestrians. Wear reflective clothing and turn on your headlights and taillights.
  • Maintain your line and be predictable to other drivers when riding.


Speak with a Kansas City DWI Attorney

If you’ve been arrested for driving or biking while intoxicated, you should contact an experienced Kansas City DWI lawyer. A qualified Kansas City DWI attorney can help you understand how the law applies to your situation and advise you on the best action.

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