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Cycling - Can you be breathalysed? What The Road Traffic Act Says

Cycling - Can you be breathalysed? What The Road Traffic Act Says

Picture the scenario – with the office Christmas party the night before and work looming at 9am driving very possibly isn't an option. Should cycling be though?


With heightened awareness of drink driving limits at this time of year, especially in Scotland where drink drive limits have been reduced below those for the rest of the UK many people will be considering alternative modes of transport. For a lot of people, cycling may be the easiest way to get in to work or to get around.

Can you though be breathalysed when riding a bicycle?

In short the answer is no. The powers contained in the Road Traffic Act 1988 that allow police officers to request a breath sample from a motorist they believe has been drinking and driving are restricted to persons who are in charge of a " mechanically propelled vehicle " . Cycles, as in "push bikes "are not covered by such legislation.

So, can I cycle then without fear of getting stopped by the police - even if I was over the drink driving limit?

Cycling having consumed alcohol clearly isn't recommended in any way but it is important that you know where you stand legally. The drink drive limit would not apply and isn't a reference point as there is no power for a cyclist to be breathalysed. However, a police officer does have the power to arrest any person without warrant who is unfit to ride a cycle on a road or other public place under the influence drink or drugs.

As this wouldn't be detected through being breathalysed, it is likely that the police would perhaps notice the way in which a person is cycling and through stopping and speaking to them detect that they are under the influence of either drink or drugs. This would then lead to an arrest being made.

How would it be proven that the cyclist was unfit to cycle?

Such cases are rarely prosecuted, but when they are the evidence of the police officers or any other witnesses such as perhaps motorists would normally be relied upon to seek a conviction.

What would the penalty be for cycling when unfit to do so through drink or drugs?

Clearly penalty points cannot be added to the person's driving licence. The penalty is imposition of a fine up to £1000.

Much in the way that TV presenters recommend not to " try this at home " clearly at Unlock the Law we don't recommend you put yourself in any danger – either as a driver or a cyclist.

What we do recommend is that you know how the law will look at a situation and our content always looks to inform you so you can make wise decisions.

If you want to learn more about drink driving or the criminal justice system, please read our free legal guidesfollow us on Twitter or subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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