Getting arrested for DUI does not mean you will be convicted. Police misconduct, defective breathalyzers and crime lab mistakes may be enough to get your charges lessened or dismissed. Visit our page on Nevada DUI Laws to learn more.
Reckless endangerment is a very broad offense that comprises purposeful, extremely risky behavior. The statute defines it as when a person “neglects any duty imposed by law in willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property.”
Riding a bicycle while intoxicated can qualify as reckless endangerment if the biker is swerving or acting erratically. Since bicyclists share the sidewalks and roads with pedestrians, drivers, and other bikers, they create a high risk of a collision by bicycling while inebriated. An accident, in turn, can cause property damage and physical injury, even death.
The sentence for a reckless endangerment conviction turns on the seriousness of the case. As long as no one died or sustained substantial bodily harm, cycling while intoxicated is a gross misdemeanor. This carries:
up to $2,000 in fines, and/or
up to 364 days in jail
Note that a first-time DUI while driving a motor vehicle that causes no injuries is only a misdemeanor, which is less serious than a gross misdemeanor. DUI charges carry a maximum jail sentence of only up to 6 months in jail. However, DUI laws carry additional penalties for motorists in the state of Nevada, including DUI School, a Victim Impact Panel, and a driver’s license suspension.
Meanwhile, if drunk cycling did cause another person to die or sustain serious harm, prosecutors will charge the defendant with a category C felony. This carries:
up to $10,000 in fines (at the judge’s discretion)
This is less serious than the punishment for a DUI causing injury or death (NRS 484C.430), which is a category B felony. The prison term is 2 to 20 years. And the defendant’s driver’s license will be suspended for three years.
Note that intoxicated cyclists who cause an accident may face a personal injury lawsuit irrespective of whether criminal charges are brought.
The most common defense to reckless endangerment charges for cycling under the influence is that the defendant was being safe. Unless a cyclist is operating the bike in a dangerous way or violating bike laws or traffic laws, no statute is being broken regardless of whether the cyclist is drunk or high.
Example: Jerome has a high alcohol tolerance. He has two beers at a Las Vegas bar, which increases his blood alcohol content to 0.08%. As he is biking home, Jerome sticks to his bike lane, uses the correct hand signals, and follows all the rules of the road and bicycle laws. He never swerves or does anything that endangers others’ property or safety. Therefore, the police officer who saw Jerome leave the bar and go biking should not arrest him for reckless endangerment because he is not acting in a way that threatens the health or property of others.
Note that if Jerome was driving home in a car, motorcycle, or moped, then he would be guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol under state law. Merely driving with a BAC of 0.08% or higher is illegal regardless of whether the driver is being safe or has a high tolerance. But since “biking under the influence” is not a crime, Jerome should not be arrested.
About the Author
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.
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