E-bikes are becoming popular in Canada, and in times of mild weather like summer, spring, and fall, you’ll see e-bikes on roads, park paths, and even cruising up mountainsides. Commuters use them to save on gas or just as a fun vehicle to ride with friends.
Although an e-bike might look like a bike and be called a bike, it isn’t your standard bicycle. These motorized bikes can go as fast as 25-30km per hour, and although you don’t need a license to drive one, you might be surprised that they’re still considered a ‘vehicle’ in Canada. Since it is considered a vehicle, you can still be charged with impaired driving if you drive while you’re intoxicated.
Although the province defines an e-bike as a bicycle, the Canadian Criminal Code considers it a motor vehicle just like cars, trucks, minivans and motorbikes. Although you technically don’t need a license to drive one, it’s an offense under the Canadian Criminal Code to operate a motor vehicle if your blood alcohol level is over .08. So if you’ve been arrested for impaired driving in Canada and had your license suspended for a period of time, under the Canadian Criminal Code e-bikes are off limits just like every other vehicle.
An actual two-wheel, non-motorized bicycle is something those with drinking and driving convictions can still ride, but be aware that, for your own safety, you shouldn’t drink and drive on a bicycle. Unlike e-bikes where you can be charged with DUI and are subject to the same penalties as DUI in other vehicles, there is no charge for riding on a bike while impaired. Depending on your province, you could be stopped for public intoxication and fined $50. If you’re carrying a bottle of alcohol or six-pack of beer while on your bike, you could be charged $100 in fines.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has said that impaired biking isn’t something you see everyday, but because it requires skill to ride a bike, you should still avoid getting on one while intoxicated.
Do yourself a favour – after a night of drinking, leave all of your bikes, motorized or otherwise, at home.