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5 bicyclists arrested on suspicion of riding under the influence [Updated]

Five bicyclists cruising in Baldwin Hills were arrested early Thursday on suspicion of  riding under the influence, according to the California Highway Patrol.

A group of 15 bicyclists were riding the wrong way down La Cienega Boulevard at Stocker Street about 1:30 a.m. when one hit a center divider, prompting officers to suspect alcohol was involved, the CHP told KTLA-TV Channel 5.

Officers conducted field sobriety tests on the bike riders and arrested five of the group. Their bicycles were confiscated, officials said.

Bicyclists are restricted to the same blood-alcohol limit of 0.08 as drivers.

[Updated at 8:11 a.m.: None of the cyclists wore helmets and few had reflectors on their bikes or clothing, making them “barely visible to passing motorists,” according to the arrest report. The five riders arrested, all between the ages of 18 and 22, were cited and released.]

CHP officers were originally sent to the intersection on a report of a collision between a bike and a car.


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-- Shan Li

Photo: Bicyclists undergo field sobriety tests Thursday. Credit: KTLA-TV Channel 5.

Comments () | Archives (48)

Geez... It seems like these guys should get an "atta boy" for riding a bike and not driving. If they damaged a car, we're drunk and obnoxious, or broke traffic laws, then they can be cited for those things categorically. Holding people to the same alcohol rules that govern operating cars is unfair because a drunk driver in a vehicle can maim or kill innocent bystanders. The risk of riding a bicycle drunk is similar to those of riding a bicycle not drunk... falling, veering into traffic etc. Pretty weak.

I wouldn't ride my bike on that section of La Cienega on the right side of the road, in the daytime, when I was sober.

All this for drunk bicyclists? I didnt know a bike could be such a deadly weapon. I thought society wanted people who drink not to drive a car.

We're slowly turning into a police state where everyone must be arrested and brought under the control of the CJ system!

I'd fight this. I dont think a jury in California would convict anyone for drunk bicycle riding.

Unfortunately the same rules apply to bicyclist as they do to drivers. I think the cops should use common sense when it comes to riders drunk on bikes... Did they cause a major accident? It does sound like they were putting them selves in danger. Should they be fined, sure, should they pay the same fines as driving under the influence, that's a little steep if you ask me.

its interesting to note where this actually happened. im sure this would never happen in silver lake or echo park.

One of these morons could easily have caused an accident with a car, causing a car to hit another vehicle, person, or property. Then the driver would probably have no recourse. The biker could just peddle away - no license to identify him with. So if car drivers have to have insurance and follow rules, so should bicyclists.

These guys were irresponsible for riding under the influence, for riding against traffic, and for failing to equip their bikes with lights and reflectors as required under California law.

However, the issue of whether they were wearing helmets is totally irrelevant, as none of the riders were under 18 and the state's under-18 helmet law did not apply to them. I find it extremely annoying that seemingly every article concerning car-bike altercations or cyclist misbehavior inevitably focuses on helmets, as if that's somehow the only safety issue that matters. If you're riding drunk, going the wrong way on a 50+ mph road, with no lights/reflectors, and weaving across oncoming lanes as these guys were, having a styrofoam lid on your head probably isn't going to make much of a difference.

There's a legitimate debate to be had about the merits of adult helmet use (I personally wear one every time I ride, and encourage others to do so), but let's try to remember what helmets are really for (i.e., protecting against slower-speed impacts to the head, and only the head) and who's required by law to wear them (in California, only children under 18). Get over the helmet fetish and quit hectoring cyclists for breaking a law that doesn't exist.

Wow! First, what kind of mindset must you have to think that riding a bike on the "wrong side" of a busy thoroughfare like LaCienega/Stocker (55mph speed limit which no one obeys...) at 1:30am, without helmets and drunk... w/ one crashing into the center divider and this... would be a "Fun and Great Idea"? ( whew!)
They all seem like Darwin Award nominees... Book um Dano!
Someone[CHP] needed to save them from themselves!

Oh wait, one more thing: reflective clothing is also not required by law--so stop making people think it is by bringing it up here like they were breaking the law by not having it.

I was thinking the same thing....GEEZ !!!! At least they werent driving a vehicle.If i was the county judge i would dismiss all 5 cases.

You can call this a frivolous arrest, but here's how it could have gone down... The cyclists are riding against traffic, whooping it up and suddenly one of them hits a pothole in the road, causing him to ditch in the middle of the street. There's a car coming in the other direction and it swerves into the next lane to avoid the biker. The serving car side-swipes a second vehicle, causing it to lose control and roll over. The occupants of the rollover are just coming to their senses and trying to release their seat belts when a tanker truck carrying gasoline plows into it from behind, sending a ball of fire into the sky and burning everyone alive. Cyclists who ride buzzed or without lights are a danger to everyone on the road, not just themselves.

@ syscom3, I have to agree with you on that one! Riding a bicycle drunk??? LOL!!! @Richard Robert, this is VERY WEAK!!!

syscom3 and Richard's tunnel vision intelligence and reasoning ignore the fact that these bicyclists pose a hazard to regular vehicle traffic. Someone driving on La Cienega can possible swerve into other cars trying to avoid these drunks, endangering harm drivers, their passengers, and people walking on the sidewalk.

Please, pick up your limited libertarian logic and go somewhere else.

"All this for drunk bicyclists? I didnt know a bike could be such a deadly weapon."

Drivers don't see the drunk cyclists weaving across the road. Driver swerves but loses control and hits a child and mother walking on the sidewalk.

Drunk cyclists are dangerous.

Prosecution for say DUI is contingent on state laws, Minnesota (where I'm from) laws specify you need to be in a motor vehicle and bikes are clearly in a separate category. However, you can still be prosecuted for things like, drunk in public, disorderly conduct, obstructing traffic, reckless driving, etc.

If these cyclists were posing a hazard to other drivers then they should be punished, period. A police officer would never allow a car to run the wrong way down the street, at night, without lights, and since bicycles are given the same right to the road they deserve equal responsibility.

As an avid cyclist, I honestly think that car/bike relations would improve if police would ticket more cyclists who break the law, forcing people to actually learn how to not ride a bike like a jackass. Then maybe, just maybe, drivers wouldn't yell at me and throw things.

Dumb kids on their fixed-gear bikes.
Nothing unusual.

Good. Please keep these punks off the road.

I love how people like Spokker and christopher lay out scenarios on how drunk bicyclists can cause fatal collisions. LOL. It never happens in real life.

Its absurd to treat a 15 pound bike driven by a moron as the same as a 2500 pound car that can cause serious damage and injury. The only thing the bike can do is get the rider injured. Nothing else.

Drunk bicycle driving should be treated as an infraction and nothing else.

its interesting to note where this actually happened. im sure this would never happen in silver lake or echo park.

Posted by: wow | January 13, 2011 at 11:02 AM

It is interesting to note. You guys should try doing some rides on freeways. im sure you would enjoy it immensely.


I know and have ridden that section of La Cienega, and it's probably one of the most dangerous spots for cyclists in LA, especially at night, as it's basically a 50 MPH zone/quasi freeway. There are several spots where traffic merges from the right at high speed and a cyclist needs serious visibility and good judgment to stay safe. Please, speaking as a cyclist, can we get stronger enforcement on bicycle riding jackasses?

I just moved from LA, but when I lived there, routinely rode 30 miles crosstown to go places and for every single cyclist riding properly in traffic there are usually a dozen riding without lights, weaving in and out of traffic, listening to their iPod and otherwise making things more dangerous for riders and drivers who know what they're doing and follow the law.

Well their you go drunk bikers. I have always suspected that the way bikers try to hog the road and drive like they were drunk they must be drunk. Now we know foresure.

pixies on fixies.

I'm not following the whole "bikes force drivers to wreck" logic. When I was taught to drive, I was told to expect that *anything* could happen in front of me, and I should be prepared -- not with an excuse, but with a plan to not hit it. This has served me well over the years. No bike or pedestrian has ever come anywhere close to causing me to wreck.

Pedestrians are not required to wear anything special, and bikes are only required to have reflectors (and some of these guys did); clearly, the law puts the responsibility for spotting the hazard and avoiding it on the driver, which is where it belongs. If you can't see everything, why not slow down? Assume nothing, and take your time; after all, you're riding in a big comfy chair, with thousands of pounds of armor, nice music, and climate control.

I would add, further, that cyclists on paths often have to spot obstacles in the dark, and somehow we manage (with wimpy little lights) to spot unlit cyclists, unlit dog walkers (dogs hear you, look, and their eyes reflect), and unlit joggers by the bits of reflective piping on their shoes. An open cell phone works, too. It appears that with better incentives (a crash would hurt ME, personally) one CAN see things just fine.

syscom #?
In response to your position. theres this?

SANTA MONICA CITY HALL — City Hall will pay a bicyclist who fell while riding on Ocean Park Boulevard $225,000 under a settlement agreement the City Council approved on Tuesday.

The bicyclist, Robin Ratner, said in court documents a "misleveling of the pavement" of between 1-and-a-half inches and 2 inches in the bike lane caused her to "go airborn and crash," resulting in a head injury and two bone fractures, among other injuries.

The October, 2009 crash on Ocean Park Boulevard at Main Street cost $175,000 in medical expenses and caused Ratner to lose $60,000 in earnings, according to the documents.


Oh, so we arrest guys on bicycles that were drinking.. (Los Angeles)

But we give a WARNING to a guy who ran a red light, then proceeded to shoot and kill innocent people (Arizona) ?

What does that say about the U.S. and its people ???

Why does that public servant still have a job ?

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