Everyone knows the laws regarding drinking and driving, but what about drinking and biking? Or scootering?
New Jersey is trying to decide if riding a bike or scooter while drunk should be illegal, too. Right now, the state law is not clear about biking — or e-biking or scootering — while intoxicated should be considered a crime like driving while intoxicated is.
Pedestrians here in Hoboken certainly think people who are drinking shouldn’t get behind the wheel— or the handlebars.
But in Hoboken, one of the most densely-populated cities in the country, drivers, bikers and pedestrians have to coexist. That means sharing the road and sidewalk with others most of the time, and pedestrians don’t want to risk their lives to someone who is inebriated while behind the wheel or handlebars.
Attempting to answer the question of lawfulness is Vito Gagliardi’s Law Revision Commission, which announced on Thursday that it will be taking a closer look at the issue — and recommended state lawmakers do the same.
“If you decide to drink and you decide that it’s safer to ride a bike than drive a car, are you still violating the law? You can’t tell based on what courts are doing here, and that’s part of the problem,” said Gagliardi.
Back in 2019, Hoboken police arrested a man for driving a scooter while intoxicated. Lieutenant Jonathan Mecka said with e-bikes and scooters that can go upwards of 30 miles an hour, driving sober is the only way.
“When you introduce alcohol into any of those situations, you are putting yourself in harm’s way and you could impact someone else’s life,” Mecka said.
Legalized in 2020, e-bikes and scooters are popular, convenient and potentially dangerous when riders don’t follow the law. The number of crashes is small compared to vehicles, but rising fast, and present new challenges for pedestrians and police. NBC New York’s Marc Santia reports.
Getting home on a bike or scooter might be viewed by someone drinking as a safer option than driving a car — but pedestrians say it’s an accident waiting to happen:
“You’ve got bike lanes here on the street and if someone. Is coming intoxicated that’s another opportunity for an accident to happen,” said Hoboken resident Andrew Marson.
Now that the Law Revision Committee is considering the issue of biking while intoxicated, they want to hear from the public.
“We want to hear from law enforcement, public defenders who handle these cases, and we want to hear from people who ride bikes,” Gagliardi said.
Any possible efforts to make changes are still in the early stages, and it’s not clear whether New Jersey lawmakers will make it illegal to bike or scooter while intoxicated. But it is being considered closely, and a report is expected early in 2023.