Is It Illegal to Ride a Bike Drunk in Canada?

Is It Illegal to Ride a Bike Drunk in Canada

Running a two-wheeler while intoxicated wasn’t an issue before. But with more and more people using bikes, people, including you, need to know—is it illegal to ride a bike drunk in Canada?

Simply put, it’s not advisable to ride a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol. This behaviour could be considered public intoxication. Therefore, punishable under the Liquor License Act.

Moreover, in modern times, some bicycles have electric or gas motors. If intoxicated cyclists operate any motorized vehicle, such as a bike, they might violate the Highway Traffic Act and Criminal Code of Canada.

Furthermore, police officers have the authority to issue tickets to cyclists for other reasons, such as: running red lights, driving on sidewalks, etc.

Therefore, if the violation is in some way related to alcohol impairment, you are actually risking public safety.

What is the New DUI Law in Canada?

DUI (Driving Under the Influence) laws are subject to change over time. Presently, driving a motor vehicle with a .08% or higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is illegal.

If you are caught driving under the influence, you could face severe consequences such as:

  • Suspension of your driving license
  • Heavy fines
  • Or even imprisonment

In some cases, jail time may be mandatory, depending on whether this is your first offence and the specifics of the case. Additionally, the severity of punishment for DUI can differ from city to city.

6 Tips for Bicyclists Practice Safe Biking and Avoid Fines

There are several ways for cyclists to practice safe biking and avoid being fined for violating traffic laws.

By following these practices, you can help ensure both your and public safety:

  1. Wear a helmet: Wearing a helmet is essential to protecting your head in the event of an accident. It’s also required by law in many areas.
  2. Obey traffic laws: Just like motorists, cyclists must follow traffic laws. This includes stopping at stop signs and red lights, using hand signals to indicate turns, and riding in the correct direction on one-way streets.
  3. Use bike lanes: When available, use bike lanes to avoid riding in traffic. This is safer and can help you avoid being fined for not riding in the designated bike lane.
  4. Stay visible: Make sure you are visible to motorists by wearing bright clothing and using lights on your bike, especially when riding at night.
  5. Stay alert: Make sure you are always aware of your surroundings and anticipate potential hazards. So, avoid using headphones or operating your phone while riding.
  6. Keep your bike in good condition: Regularly maintain your bike to ensure it’s safe to ride. Check your brakes, tires, and chain regularly.

How to Beat an Impaired Driving Charge

It can be hard to beat an impaired driving charge. However, it’s not impossible. Check these tips below and learn what you can do.

Challenge the Evidence

Challenging the evidence is a strong defence strategy. And you can challenge the following:

Breathalyzer or blood tests

There could be issues with the testing equipment, improper calibration, or improper administration of the test. So, you can challenge the accuracy of the breathalyzer or blood test results.

Police officer’s observations

Other factors could affect your behaviour, such as a medical condition. Also, the officer might not follow proper procedure during the arrest. Once again, you can challenge the police officer’s observations of your behaviour.

Argue Charter of Rights and Freedoms Violations

All citizens have certain rights, including not agreeing to an unreasonable search and seizure. If the police violate your Charter rights during your arrest or in gathering evidence against you, this may be grounds for dismissing the charges against you.

Few examples of Charter violations that you can raise as a defence are: 

Unreasonable search and seizure

The police must have a valid reason, such as a warrant or reasonable suspicion, before conducting a search or seizure. If the police had no valid reason to stop your vehicle, search, or seize your person or property, this might violate your Charter rights.

Right to counsel

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms assures the right to counsel, which means that individuals can speak to their lawyer before and during their arrest. If you were not allowed to speak to a lawyer before or during your arrest, this might violate your Charter rights.

Remember that the right to counsel applies at all stages of the legal process, including during police questioning, court appearances, and sentencing. Can’t afford a lawyer? You may be eligible for legal aid or other forms of assistance.

Right to a fair trial

Individuals have the right to a trial that is fair and impartial. If there were irregularities in the legal process that affected your ability to receive a fair trial, such as bias or prejudice from the judge or prosecutor, this might be a violation of your Charter rights.

Note that the right to a fair trial includes the right to face trial within a reasonable time, the right to an impartial judge or jury, along the right to a defence lawyer.

Consider Alternative Sentencing Options

Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may negotiate a plea bargain or seek alternative sentencing options, such as attending a rehabilitation program. These options will allow you to avoid a criminal record or reduce the severity of your penalties.

Here are some alternative sentencing options:

Plea bargaining

Negotiating a plea bargain with the prosecution can be a viable option for individuals facing DUI or impaired driving charges in Canada.

In this alternative sentencing option, you plead guilty to one or more charges in exchange for a reduced sentence or other favourable outcomes.

Plea bargaining can effectively resolve a DUI or impaired driving case quickly while minimizing the potential consequences of a conviction. By entering into a plea bargain, you can often avoid the time, expense, and uncertainty of a trial.

However, it is important to remember that plea bargaining requires you to confess to the offence, which can have long-term consequences, such as a criminal record, license suspension, and increased insurance rates. Additionally, the terms of the plea bargain must be acceptable to both you and the prosecution.

Rehabilitative programs

Attending a rehabilitation program, such as an alcohol or drug treatment program, can show the court that you are taking responsibility for your actions.

Fines or community service

In some cases, the court may be willing to impose fines or community service instead of jail time. It particularly applies if it is a first-time offence with no aggravating circumstances.

Be Cooperative

It is important to be cooperative with the authorities throughout the legal process. 

Reasons why being cooperative can help in defending against a DUI:

Plea negotiations

If you are cooperative and show remorse for your actions, the prosecution may be more likely to offer a plea bargain that reduces your charges or penalties.


If you are cooperative during sentencing, the judge may take this into account when determining the severity of your sentence.

Image in court

Being respectful and cooperative can also improve your image in court and make you appear more sympathetic to the judge and jury.

It is important to note that being cooperative does not mean admitting guilt or agreeing to everything the prosecution says.

Final Remarks: Is It Illegal to Ride a Bike Drunk in Canada?

It should be clear to you by now that driving any motorized vehicle while drunk falls in the scope of traffic law violations. And for violation of traffic law in such a way, you will face penalties.

So, it is advised not to take the risk. Moreover, driving under the influence is clearly a public safety issue—another reason not to do it.

In case you need help with a DUI case, you should reach an expert lawyer. How can a lawyer help?

Seeking legal representation is crucial in defending against a DUI or impaired driving charge in Canada. A lawyer specializing in impaired driving law can assess the strength of the evidence against you and provide valuable guidance on the legal process.

© 2022 Merv Nidesh, KC & Linh Pham.