Tag Archives: traffic

Can you get a DUI on a bicycle

Can you get a DUI on a bicycle


Another attorney pointed this out to me, seems very apt for today’s news. Here’s today’s news:

October 13, 2013 Woman killed on a bicycle

I hope she figures out which attorney to get.

Original post:

Can you get cited for Driving Under the Influence while on a bicycle?

Absolutely not. If your bicycle has a motor, you are on a moped, and the answer is YES, you can get a DUI on a moped, on a bicycle? Absolutely not.

It shocks me how many people think that you can get a DUI on a bicycle. Just this week I was with a group of attorneys who do a lot of DUIs, make a living on them. And one said to the group “Do you know you can get a DUI on the bicycle? It’s true!”

The group agreed. Probably to be more polite than anything. But one person even said that they saw someone convicted of a DUI! But you can’t, at least not the way the law has been for the last ten years. Let me explain how lawyers (should) look at laws:

I. Read the Law. Again.

The most useful skill I learned in law school was not in a criminal law class, but in a business law class. The teacher called in Close text interpretation, at least, I think that’s what he called it.

II. Close Text Interpretation

The rule we learn at the Public Defender’s office is this: “Re-read the law, every time.” Every time a new case lands on your desk, re-read the law, every time. You’ve done 1,000 DUI cases and there’s another one on your desk? Re-read the law, every time. There’s always something new that shows up.

III. DUI law

In Hawaii, the DUI law is called Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of an Intoxicant.  Here we’re going to call it DUI, since everyone I know, even the judges, call it DUI. Most laws get one statute, DUI has evolved to have it’s own section of statutes. Any statute that begins with 291E have some relation to the DUI law.

a. The DUI law is HRS 291E-61

The definition of DUI is held in Hawaii Revised Statutes sec. 291E-61 and reads below:


A person commits the offense of operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant if the person operates or assumes actual physical control


This is not the FULL text of the DUI law. This is just the charging section. This is the part that is relevant to today’s issue.  Actually, we can reduce that part to a shorter section:


Hawaii Revised Statute 291e-61 defines DUI as: A person commits the offense of operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant if the person operates or assumes actual physical control


And here’s where the confusion lies:

Notice the first sentence: “VEHICLE” what does that mean? Notice most laws talk about “Motor Vehicle”. But we’re not talking about Motor Vehicle here. Why?

BUT before we get to the problem, let’s finish the close text analysis. The rule is Definitions, ALWAYS definitions.

b. Read the Definitions in HRS 291E-1

Hawaii makes definitions easy, they’re almost always (ALMOST!) in the first section of the same statute. here we find vehicle. The definition is found in Hawaii Revised Statute sec. 291E-1:

Vehicle is defined as (1) Motor Vehicle. (2) Moped; and (3) Vessel. The Definition of Vessel is a boat on the water.

III. Answer:

Vehicle means Motor Vehicle. Is a bicycle a motor vehicle? no. Case closed.

If you get drunk on a bicycle, don't drive into traffic.

YOU CANNOT GET A DUI ON A BICYCLE. (as long as it doesn’t have a Motor.)

Addendum: Answers are easy, why the confusion?

Confusion is more fun to figure out.

Here’s why, the Hawaii Revised Statutes criminal traffic sections define “Vehicle” no fewer than three times!

There’s the above.

There’s HRS Sec. 291C-001:      “Vehicle” means every device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a roadway or highway, including mopeds and bicycles, but excluding toy bicycles, devices other than bicycles moved by human power, and devices used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.

And there’s HRS sec. 286-002:   “Vehicle” means every device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, but excludes devices moved by human power or devices used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks and mopeds.

And then I got tired of looking things up.

Three sections, three different definitions, SAME WORD. Notice, for 291C-1, both bicycles and mopeds are vehicles. For 286-2, both bicycles and mopeds are NOT vehicles. Whoever the attorneys were who believed that you can get a DUI on a bicycle, got their definition statutes confused.

Hawaii laws that can be enforced on both a bicycle and a car.

On closer look, the charges you CAN get while riding a bicycle include

  1. speeding ticket
  2. racing charge

On the other hand if you get a Hawaii Revised Statutes sec. 291-2 Reckless Driving charge while on a bicycle, now there is a problem, because which statutory definition of “Vehicle” applies, since there is none! Horse on the other hand is explicit. Guilty!

And that’s the long way to say, Drink and Bike is legal, just make sure your balance is good enough to you don’t land face first!

Announcing the Honolulu Roadblock Map!

Announcing the Honolulu Roadblock Map!

Today we hit, and surpassed, 250 Facebook likes!

So, to thank all of you who have been such good fans and customers, we accelerated the schedule on our next big web update and decided to announce early our latest contribution to the Hawaii legal community.

We spent our time collating and organizing the map of the Honolulu Police Department’s Roadblocks and Speeding Operations.  The purpose of this map is to allow you to see, graphically, where the Honolulu Police Department have been concentrating their traffic arrests.

Plan ahead to avoid the roadblocks and speed traps. This will not tell you all of them, but it will definitely tell you where the police have made traffic stops before. On some corners in excess of 100 speeding stops in a short period of time.

See our latest:Click!

Little brown hairs everywhere

So the Police officer is going to come in, and see if he recognizes anybody.

I announce this to the gallery of Defendants and their families and they look at each other shocked!

Don’t worry, we’re trying to see if he recognizes the person who he arrested in this case.  If he recognizes the wrong person, you won’t get in trouble, just the other guy will be found innocent!

From these Defendants and their families,  it is extremely easy to find compassion for someone else facing a criminal charge.  You’re the only one in the world who really knows what they feel like.

So, don’t stare straight ahead, just continue on with your conversations, don’t act suspicious. You WON’T get in trouble.

The Cop walks in the door of the tenth floor Ala Kea Courtroom.  Bumps his knee on the gallery door, the “bar”, and walks to the center of the court.  He looks left, looks right, looks left, looks right.  And does it again and again.  On the Left is a handsome muscular boy sitting next to a GORGEOUS woman.   On the Right is a handsome muscular boy by himself.  The cop didn’t know who to choose…

20 minutes before this I showed up in court and I noticed a Beautiful girl. Beautiful.  The kind you can’t look away from.  She was watching me as I called up each person I represented in Traffic Court.  Driving Without a License, Speeding, Driving while License Suspended, Racing, that kind of thing. And one by one I called everybody. And she was still watching me.

And then a guy came in and sat down next to her.  5’11″, muscular build, dark spiky hair, v-neck shirt.

And he was the next person I called, and spoke to.  She was watching me, and waiting to see when I called her boyfriend.  The cop caught him dead to rights. On a hunch I asked him, “That’s your girlfriend?” Yeah. “She was in the car with you?” Yeah. Yeah. “Call your girlfriend out here.”

The girlfriend came out and I called out my other client who I had spoken to earlier.  The guy was 5’9″ maybe, muscular build, short caesar-like hair, fitted shirt.  Not exactly the same but close enough.  I had them stand next to each other:

Hello Officer.

I told the girl: “For the next five minutes, this is your boyfriend.  Act if every way like it’s your boyfriend.  You can’t be distant.  If they can tell you’re not together, this won’t work.”  Alright, go back in the courtroom.

I made a speech to the gallery, and when I came back in with the officer he couldn’t decide.  He looked back and forth between the two men.  No one else was distracting, it was only these two men.  There was no other option.  One sitting alone, one sitting next to the beautiful girl who was in the car at the time of the ticket.  Minimum 10 times he looked back and forth between the two.  It seemed like forever.

That one.

This is the way I feel.

He pointed at the gentlemen sitting with the girl next to him.  He walked outside the courtroom, and as soon as the door closed behind him the courtroom arose in a hail of cheers.  Someone in the back yelled out “Do that for me!”

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Hawaii Criminal Defense: The Legal Blog

Issues in Hawaii Law.

Below is a collection of Articles I've written about Hawaii law.  Most are about criminal defense, Honolulu trial work, or future legal trends. Courtroom experience is probably the most common.  Others are comments on local or national law.  Hopefully there is something for you to find and enjoy.  If nothing else, you'll see the way I feel about certain issues, and the thought processes I put into legal problems we solve.

And some stories are just too funny NOT to tell.......

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