It doesn’t matter what vehicle you’re driving. A DWI offense is a serious crime. Motorcyclists, have much more at stake than the average driver of an automobile. Riders are more likely to experience serious injury or death if an accident were to ensue. Unlike cars, motorcycles don’t have airbags, and the rider’s body has no real form of protection against the impact of another vehicle or solid object. This is why DWI cases involving motorcycles are given so much importance. Read on to learn more about DWI while operating a motorcycle.
Each case varies due to specific facts and circumstances, but the consequences for being arrested for DWI can include fines, community service, rehabilitative treatment, and jail time. Once you’ve been convicted of a DWI (this applies to every type of motorized vehicle), your driving record will be tarnished for the next 10 years. The best way to beat charges levied against you is to contact the proper attorney, but we’ll touch more on that in another section.
What police officers look for
To dismount properly, a motorcyclist must first turn off the engine and set the kickstand in place to balance the bike. Typically, when a motorcyclist is dismounting, they will shift their weight onto one foot as they swing their other foot over the seat. Dismounting can be more difficult with a center-stand because the rider has to cope with not only balancing the weight of the bike as they deployed the kickstand but also lifting the bike back onto the stand. If a rider were to have issues dismounting their bike a police officer might interpret that the person may be intoxicated.
Drifting While Turning
A motorcycle is considered to be drifting when it appears to turn into/outside of another lance while turning a corner. As you ride a motorcycle, something known as the “cornering line” (the line that allows the rider to see and maintain traction) is essential for pulling off tight turns. The outside of the rider’s lane is considered to be the “cornering line”. Police officers watch motorcyclists as they make turns to determine whether or not the rider is intoxicated. A rider who has cornered correctly should drift to the outside of the lane, back to the inside of the lane, and then back to the outside once again. If this does not happen, a police officer may determine that the rider may be intoxicated.
Trouble with Balance When Stationary
Typically, when a motorcycle comes to a stop, it’s common practice to place one foot on the ground to keep the bike in an upright position while the other foot rests near the peg. If an officer witnesses a rider who experiences trouble balancing their bike while stationary, there’s a good chance they’ll check to see if the rider is intoxicated. Police officers are commonly taught that if a rider is shifting foot to foot to maintain balance, that person may be intoxicated. The issue, however, is that some motorcyclists have a preference for balancing both feet on the ground to maintain stability, leaving room for a mistaken interpretation of the situation.
There are a number of factors that police look for when they’re attempting to identify if a motorcyclist is having “turning problems”. Officers typically look for these three factors:
- Erratic movements while turning – If a motorcycle makes a sudden erratic movement while turning, that could be an indication of a rider who is DWI. An impaired rider may misjudge distance and may swerve to avoid an object they have yet to reach. When it comes to turning, an impaired rider’s sense of balance may be thrown off, and they may twist the handlebars erratically to correct the perceived issue.
- Braking late in the midst of a turn – In most cases, a motorcyclist will brake while entering a curve and speed up coming out of a curve. However, impaired riders may misjudge their speed and distance and hit their brakes the entire time. If a rider slows down while leaning into a curve, but continues to slow down while coming out of that curve, there’s a possibility that person is DWI.
- Unsteadiness – AKA the wobble, unsteadiness while turning can be a clear indicator that the rider is DWI. The primary issue is that a motorcycle may “wobble” due to a shift in weight somewhere on the bike. This can occur due to tire pressure, mechanical issues, and accessories. Due to the many unknown variables of why a bike may wobble during a turn, there’s a good chance that a motorcyclist may be targeted for DWI, even though it’s the fault of the motorcycle that the bike is wobbling and not the rider.
Odd behavior can cover a broad range of movements and actions that could be construed as alcohol induced. These include urinating on the side of the road, swerving, carrying an open container of alcohol, being disorderly, and so on. Do the aforementioned behaviors prove without a shadow of a doubt that a rider is DWI? Absolutely not, but such behavior can be a possible indicator that the rider may be intoxicated.
If you ever make the decision to drink and operate a motorcycle, you’re asking for trouble. If you survive the experience, there will be legal repercussions. It’s advised that you find a lawyer who is well versed in DWI cases, especially one who has had experience with DWI while operating a motorcycle.
You might have noticed that there can be multiple instances in which an officer could mistake a rider for DWI due to the natural needs of the bike and the rider’s ability/choice on how to negotiate certain situations, such as turning or balancing their bike. If you feel you’ve been wrongly convicted quickly find a specialized lawyer to fight the case right away.