Written by John Sutton
Published under Offences
August 9, 2016
In the ACT have you ever ridden your bicycle home after a few beers with friends? Or chosen to ride a bicycle, rather than drive, because you have had a few drinks? If you ride a bike intoxicated you may still be charged with a criminal offence in the Australian Capital Territory. The offence of ‘Driver Intoxicated’ is an offence under s24A of the Road Transport (Alcohol and Drug) Act 1977.
With more bikes on the road per capita than any other state or territory in Australia and a recorded 87,000 Canberrans cycling at least once a week in 2015, it is safe to say it is a popular mode of transport in Canberra. The ACT Chief Health Officer's Report 2015 also revealed that bicycle related accidents had increased by 50% between 2014 and 2015, and the ACT now has one of the highest rates of bicycle related injuries in Australia. Making it an offence to ride your bike intoxicated aims at making the bicycle paths of Canberra a safer place for cyclists.
To be charged with this offence the Police must prove that you were intoxicated while riding a vehicle on a road or road related area. Police can make observations of you being intoxicated based on your balance, speech, walk, smell of alcohol, eyes, or flushed face. Road related area may include a bike track or pathway. The intoxication must be to such an extent that you were incapable of having proper control of the vehicle.
The definition of ‘vehicle’ under section s24A is broader than defined under the other sections of the Act that cover prescribed concentration of alcohol (PCA) and drive under the influence offences. Under section 24A vehicle can include bicycles, animals and animal drawn carriages; whereas to be charged with a PCA or DUI offence you must have been the driver of a motor vehicle.
If you have been charged as a driver intoxicated you may be given a fine of up to $7500 or be imprisoned for up to 6 months, or both. It is considered a serious offence and has a similar penalty range to a level 3 PCA offence (Level 3 PCA is charged when you have a blood alcohol concentration of between 0.08 and 0.149). However, the penalty range for an offence of driver intoxicated does not include a licence disqualification period
If you have been charged with a driver intoxicated offence the criminal law team at Armstrong Legal can help.