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What is a BUI?

Mary McMahon
Updated Feb 25, 2024
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A BUI is a citation for Bicycling Under the Influence. While the penalties for a BUI are not as severe as those for a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) conviction, there is a potential for a fine, and someone with repeated BUIs may serve jail time or be asked to take a compulsory class. Laws about BUIs vary from region to region, with some areas having specific laws which prohibit cycling while drunk, while others enfold BUIs in other laws, such as laws concerning disorderly conduct.

While the idea of cycling under the influence seems more benign than driving under the influence, it can still be very dangerous. The primary danger is to the cyclist, as drinking dulls response times, and this may mean that a cyclist may not evade danger quickly enough, resulting in serious injury or death. Choosing to cycle under the influence can also result in reckless behavior such as running stop signs, ignoring traffic lights, or misjudging the safety of various activities such as turning in traffic or cutting a vehicle off.

Just as is the case with a DUI, a BUI is issued when a police officer stops a cyclist and determines that he or she has been drinking. The legal limit for a BUI is usually the same as that for a licensed driver. In an area where a specific BUI law exists, the police officer will issue a BUI citation. In the event that such a law does not exist, the police officer may charge the cyclist with disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct, or a similar law.

In some cases, a BUI can result in the revocation of a driver's license, under the assumption that the cyclist may be prone to driving drunk if he or she is willing to bike while intoxicated. In other instances, the cyclist may be fined, sentenced to community service, or forced to spend some time in jail as a result of a BUI conviction. Since cycling doesn't require a license, a BUI doesn't mean that the biking days of the offender are over, but repeat offenses may lead to close scrutiny from local law enforcement.

The term “BUI” is also used to describe Boating Under the Influence. In this case, a BUI conviction can have serious consequences, because boats are treated as vehicles, since they have motors. A BUI conviction may result in the revocation of a boating license, along with the boater's driver's license, and the boater may be required to pay a significant fine and attend a series of BUI classes. Multiple offenses can result in prison time.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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