DWI for Walking a Bicycle

Jeff Brown of Columbus, Ohio was arrested for DWI, spent four days in jail, and had his license suspended for six months when he refused to take a breath test after an officer confronted him on suspicion of operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Brown was walking his bicycle across his own front yard. Brown has since made a YouTube video detailing his ordeal.


Via Lawrence Taylor, who notes that in 2005, a woman in Florida was arrested for DWI for operating her own wheelchair while intoxicated. That case, fortunately, was thrown out.

MORE:  The appellate court decision describes the facts of the case this way:

The record contains scant details of the underlying facts of this case, but it appears appellant was riding a bicycle on a sidewalk on December 18, 2004, when he was detained by a police officer.

Make of that what you will. 

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  • ||

    Clearly Columbus is the best place in the world to live. I mean all major crime like murder, rape and theft must be non-existent for the police to crack down on drunk bike walking. Right?

  • ||

    Hrrm,
    I see that I am wrong.

  • ||

    A man in Montana some years ago got a DUI while passed out on his couch at home with the keys on the coffee table next to him. Because of his prior DUIs (four, I think), the police deemed him guilty of DUI because of his "intent" to get behind the wheel.
    No, I am not kidding.

  • Other Matt||

    Listening to his descriptions of numbers and irrational application, I'm somehow reminded of Obama's "common sense" regulation of firearms being ok....now why would that be?

  • ||

    That was beautiful.

  • Another Heavy-handed issue||

    Principal who punished 3 who sat pledge foresees policy rewording

    http://www.startribune.com/nation/18800444.html

  • Kluber||

    "I see that I am wrong."

    Columbus's crime is about double the national average. Must be a lot of black folks living there.

  • Seer||

    His probelm is that he lives in Ohio. His problem only gets worse given that he lives in Columbus.

    Full Disclosure: I am a Michigander

  • ||

    If this cop pulls over a "Brother in Blue*" who has had a little too much celebration, what do y'all think he does?

    *I'm in an anti-cop sorta mood today.

  • C L||

    Wait, I'd like to go back to the first offense - does the law actually require headlights to be installed on bikes
    a) on private property and
    b) while not even being operated?

  • Colin||

    I'm thinking about a beer -- someone arrest me!

  • Bingo||

    Another dangerous criminal off the streets! Kudos to our hard-working boys in blue, its a tough job but someone's got to do it!

  • Episiarch||

    Another dangerous person off the streets. Mission accomplished.

  • Episiarch||

    Whoops, didn't see Bingo's post.

  • ||

    The cop who stopped him certainly showed a stunning lack of common-sense discretion. But this, of course, is why we should have as few and narrowly-written laws as possible.

    On the pledge thing: one student's mom said "my son wasn't being defiant against America." Ironically, that may mean the principal was in the right. If the student didn't have a free-speech point, I don't see why his right to sit while the rest of the class stands should be protected.

  • gmatts||

    I had a friend that got arrested in Indiana after a concert at a drug check point. While I was waiting for him to be processed out of jail, I was talking to a girl at the police station that also got arrested there. She was arrested for public intoxication. The police woke her up while she was sleeping in the back of her friends car, gave her a breathalizer on the spot and then handcuffed her, toke her to jail and charged her w/ being drunk in public.
    What a country!!!

  • ||

    It is important that the police intercept this guy before he becomes a danger to himself, or god forbid, another person!

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    When I was a kid the guy across the street, Curtis Lane, a good old boy from Texas, had an argument with a neighbor because his washing machine overflowed onto her property. Once.

    She called the cops. When they got there Curt was drunk in his front yard (that was his usual state on Sunday afternoon).

    The cop asked him to step out into the street and then arrested him for drunk in public. They tossed him into the back of the car, roared down to the end of the street and then slammed on the brakes which shoved his face into the screen separating the cops from the prisoners, thereby making his face into hamburger. Later the cops pushed him down the stairs at the jail. Oops, he fell.

    The good news is that he was acquitted. The bad news is that he lost his suit against the city of Garden Grave, even though there were dozens of witnesses who testified to seeing exactly the same thing. Poh-leece brutality.

    Lesson here is that thangs have not changed much in the last 40 years, the cops can mostly do WTF they want, and the courts will turn a blind eye.

  • Bingo||

    Epi: libertarian echo-chamber syndrome rears its ugly head!

  • Geotpf||

    These stories are why cops are called pigs by certain segments of the population.

  • ||

    Wait, I'd like to go back to the first offense - does the law actually require headlights to be installed on bikes
    a) on private property and
    b) while not even being operated?


    According to the statute, the bicycle must be "in use" for the requirement to apply. There's no private property exception.

    Yet another cop on a power trip.

  • Episiarch||

    On H&R, echo chambers you!

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Oh, this is fun.

    My girlfriend's brother, being too drunk to drive, pulled his car off onto a residential street to sleep it off. Stanton cops dragged him out of the car, beat the holy shit out of him, tranqed his dog, and arrested them both. After several days they let him out.

    TWC figured the county would snuff the dog (three day rule) so I went and bailed him out, which is how I ended up with one of the three best dogs I've ever owned. Man that was a great dog. German Shepard.

    One time at a party, this chick's little boy wandered off and nobody noticed but my dog. Shamus followed that boy and stayed with him for three hours. The kid was eventually found and my dog wouldn't let anyone within 10 feet of that little kid, including the cops. Kept them at bay til his mom showed up.

  • ||

    Yet another cop on a power trip.

    Not to mention a prosecutor who went along with it, and a judge who failed to throw it out.

    -jcr

  • ||

    According to the statute, the bicycle must be "in use" for the requirement to apply.

    I don't think walking your bicycle really qualifies as in use.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    This chick I know got busted a couple of years ago while she was making out underneath the Hollywood sign. No warrant, but when they ripped apart the guys car they found a little bit of blow. Arrested both of them. She goes in for arraignment and the judge O.R.'s her on the condition that she go to drug school and then he promises to dismiss.

    It took LA County something like 8 days to release her. And then, get this, they release her from county lockup at 2:00 AM. Yes, 2:00 in the morning. In South Central LA. A scrawny little white girl in South Central in the middle of the night.

    Luckily she had 100 bucks cash on her and was able to get a cab back to the OC.

  • ||

    The video is a mixture of smart and silly.

    In order to make his case, he should focus on the fact that HE was not in a MOTOR vehicle. There's no sense in making it hard on himself by defending actual drunk drivers.

    There's also something silly about how binary the law is. After all, there's drunk and then there's DRUNK. We don't have a gradient. .08 is too effin' low.

    Some people really do put other people at risk. Those mothefuckers need to go to jail. A small group of hardcore repeat offenders really are a danger to society. They should be locked up for long periods of time. (Instead, we have long sentences that are indiscriminate AND NEVER ENFORCED.) People who have a piece of rum cake should not be harassed randomly.

    We don't have to defend the rights of people who are legitimately drunk. We just have to make sure we have a reasonable definition of what that is and safeguards to make sure we get the right people.

    BTW, how did the Brown case turn out?

  • gmatts||

    "According to the statute, the bicycle must be "in use" for the requirement to apply. There's no private property exception."

    But when is a bicycle not considered "in use" if there is no exception for private property?

    As long as it has 2 wheels and a chain, I'd guess that a bicycle is, by nature, in use. Of course, if it doesn't have 2 wheels and a chain, can it really be considered a bicycle anymore?
    For example, lets say that the person just became aware of the headlight rule. They go out and buy a headlight to install. their garage door is open and can viewed from the sidewalk. They take the bike and walk it over to where the light will be installed. As this happens a Columbus cop walks by and sees it. I guess that he could give the person a ticket, or the death penalty, for the bike being "in use" with no headlight.

  • gmatts||

    Also, what if you are carrying the bike as opposed to walking it? Because then the wheels aren't in motion.

    I guess thats how to get out of DWI. Just carry your car home from the bar.

  • ||

    I don't even understand why we need BAC laws now. Cops can perform sobriety tests in front of the cruiser video camera, and that can be submitted to a jury as proof that the driver was intoxicated. I know I'm being simple here, but between that and the vehicle cam showing a guy swerving before being pulled over should be more than ample arrest for a conviction. Sure, you can use the fact that there is blood in the alcohol to support the case, but basing a DUI conviction solely on BAC is stupid to the nth degree.

  • ||

    On the pledge thing: one student's mom said "my son wasn't being defiant against America." Ironically, that may mean the principal was in the right. If the student didn't have a free-speech point, I don't see why his right to sit while the rest of the class stands should be protected.

    There is a huge middle ground between allegiance and defiance. In particular, one can believe and accept that the United States claims dominion over the territory one calls home -- and fully abide by that reality -- without showing the country either allegiance or defiance.

    It is absolutely a free speech issue. The state should not be able to force you to pledge allegiance regardless of your reasons or lack of reasons.

  • David McElroy||

    It seems that the guy who made this is badly confusing two issues. He is right to argue that his conviction was insane. He can also make a reasonable argument that the change to the Ohio statute didn't make sense. But he spends the majority of the time on the video trying to argue that drunk driving and the people killed by it aren't problems. Why would he make this absurd argument in order to deal with his actual case -- of walking a bicycle across his own yard? I'm a libertarian and strongly think that what you do to yourself is your business. But arguing that it's not an issue for people to be chemically impaired when they're driving guided missiles on the highway with other people isn't libertarian. It's goofy.

  • Wicks Cherrycoke||

    We had a similar case here in New Jersey twenty years ago. A bike rider was arrested and convicted for DWI for riding a bike while intoxicated, on the theory that bike riders are subject to the same "rules of the road" as drivers. Two years later, an appellate court threw the conviction out, establishing the remarkable proposition that one must be operating an actual motor vehicle in order to be guilty of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

    However, like Montana, New Jersey allows DWI convictions for attempted drunk driving. A drunk person was convicted for DWI for sitting behind the wheel of a car with his keys in the ignition, even though the car was inoperable. This conviction was upheld on appeal.

  • Fritz||

    I think the guy has very good Constitutional grounds to challenge the law. A warrantless "search" (into his body) and indictment on his own property without any reasonable cause seems to directly contradict the text of the 4th amendment, no?

  • ||

    What would they have done if he didn't have a driver's license? The ostensible justification behind "implied consent" laws is that, by accepting a driver's license you consent to a BAC test. Thus if you don't have a driver's license, they can't punish you for not taking such a test.

  • ||

    Fritz,

    You can be arrested on your own property if an officer sees you committing an arrestable offense "in plain view", which would seem to apply in this case since he was out on his front yard.

  • Paul||

    So you would lose your bicycle license, right?

  • ||

    I rather suspect he wasn't arrested for walking a bicycle while drunk, but for failing to show due respect to his overlords in blue.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Wow. THIRTEEN people in Teas service life sentences for DUI's in which there was no bodily harm. If that's the case, you might as well murder whatever police officer approaches you and get your sentence's worth.

  • Invisible Finger||

    "Texas serving".

    Guess I'll get arrested for driving while dyslexic.

  • gmatts||

    "You can be arrested on your own property if an officer sees you committing an arrestable offense "in plain view", which would seem to apply in this case since he was out on his front yard."

    But isn't someone allowed to drive a vehicle on private property even if they are underage the legal age, or not properly licensed?
    So it seems that some deference is given to citizens behavior on their own property.

  • Brandybuck||

    Not nearly as dramatic, but when I was a kid I got a speeding ticket riding my bicycle. I was doing 25mph in a school zone. It was embarassing explaining it to my dad. In traffic court the judge grounded me for two weekends.

  • ||

    Welcome to the police state that is Ohio.

  • ktc2||

    Yup, this is absolutely a "Me cop! You little people! Obey!" thing.

    He must have said something like "get off my lawn" or "none of your business". Instead of the required "Yes, sir Master! Whatever you say!"

  • First Little Pig||

    In Albuquerque NM the cops will give you a breath-a-lizer while you are inside the bar and arrest you for DWI ... Again, let me repeat, WHILE YOU ARE INSIDE THE BAR ... and for good measure cite the bar for "overserving" which can result in a fine, suspension of liquor license or both.

    I know a bartender who lost his "server" license for "overserving."

  • gmatts||

    You sure its "arrested for DWI", and not for public intoxication?

  • herodotus||

    It seems that the guy who made this is badly confusing two issues. He is right to argue that his conviction was insane. He can also make a reasonable argument that the change to the Ohio statute didn't make sense. But he spends the majority of the time on the video trying to argue that drunk driving and the people killed by it aren't problems. Why would he make this absurd argument in order to deal with his actual case -- of walking a bicycle across his own yard?

    His point was that there is a great deal of hysteria attached to the creation of these laws.

    This hysteria is what led to laws being created that are so broad and vague that things like this can actually happen.

    Hysteria is always bad in the context of legislation. It is also very common.

    I thought libertarians were against this sort of thing. Perhaps I was wrong

  • ||

    When you watch the video freeze it on the statue.

    If the information under 4511.01 the video points to is correct and current, not only is the guy not guilty, but he was falsely arrested. If you look at the bottom of the definition of vehicle, it says "other than a bicycle that is moved by human power."

    Seems like he should have appealed on the grounds that a bicycle is not a vehicle under the law, therefore the OVI does not apply.

  • David McElroy||

    There is a lot of hysteria about a lot of laws that are passed, but that's not germane to the issue of someone being convicted of walking a bicycle across a yard -- and neither is alleged hysteria about DUI laws germane to his specific situation. He has a strong case, because he wasn't operating a vehicle. The FACTS of the case seem to be on his side, regardless of the law. Muddying the waters by trying to act as though DUI isn't really an issue is illogical and stupid.

  • C L||

    Nope, TrickyVic,
    The statue says that human powered vehicles are not considered vehicles, other than a bicycle. That implies that bicycles are vehicles according to this statute, but something else human powered, say a tricycle, or a scooter, wouldn't be.

  • ||

    Shit, in Ohio you can be charged if you let a drunk drive your vehicle.

    http://www.ohio-dui.com/DUIlaw.htm

  • ||

    The statue says that human powered vehicles are not considered vehicles, other than a bicycle. That implies that bicycles are vehicles according to this statute, but something else human powered, say a tricycle, or a scooter, wouldn't be.

    So if he had some vestigial training wheels on the bike, so high off the ground that they never touch, he'd be OK?

  • ||

    "A warrantless 'search' (into his body) and indictment on his own property without any reasonable cause seems to directly contradict the text of the 4th amendment, no?"

    They had probable cause, they didn't need a warrant. A better argument would be that this is not what the lawmakers had in mind when they wrote the law.

  • ||

    Ahh, I had to read it a couple of time, but your right.

  • ||

    Profleed, probably not, it's still a bicycle. I'll stick with the tricycle, lol.

  • ||

    I mean prolefeed, sorry about that.

  • ||

    I thought libertarians were against this sort of thing. Perhaps I was wrong.

    Drink!

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    A drunk person was convicted for DWI for sitting behind the wheel of a car with his keys in the ignition, even though the car was inoperable.

    We wuz taught here in the Great State of Californicate that if you are drunk and sitting in your car in the driveway on private property that you can be arrested and charged with DUI. There is a limit, maybe 100 feet maybe 500 feet from any public roadway.

  • bill||

    I think all cops should start wearing brownshirts.

  • ||

    Breaking the speed limit on a bike is a blast - the best I've managed was 18mph over. Probably just as well there were no cops around to see that...

  • ||

    But arguing that it's not an issue for people to be chemically impaired when they're driving guided missiles on the highway with other people isn't libertarian. It's goofy.

    "Guided Missiles"? Don't get your panties in a bunch, Sally. It's just a fucking car.

    'OH NOES LOOK OUT GAIS...he has a guided torpedo!" cut to picture of a motorboat.

    It's retarded hysteria like calling cars "guided missiles" and elevating intoxication above other types of distraction or risk factors that lead to rank retardedness like this in the first place.

  • Brian||

    "However, like Montana, New Jersey allows DWI convictions for attempted drunk driving. A drunk person was convicted for DWI for sitting behind the wheel of a car with his keys in the ignition, even though the car was inoperable. This conviction was upheld on appeal."

    I'm pretty sure they don't even need to be in the ignition in NJ, if they are anywhere in the passenger compartment at the same time as a drunk person (sitting in any seat)...

  • David McElroy||

    Ayn_Randian, you apparently don't think that being on the road with intoxicated drivers is dangerous. If you truly believe that, you're an idiot, plain and simple.

    A car IS the equivalent of a guided missile when driven by a drunken moron with no respect for the lives of others on the road. I suppose you also think it's a good idea to fire guns randomly into areas with people. As long as the bullets don't happen to hit anybody, you're OK with that, I suppose. It makes just as much sense as what you seem to be saying.

    This case has everything to do with a cop on a power trip and a law that has been extended beyond its reasonable purpose. Pretending that the root idea of the law (stopping drunk drivers from killing and maiming) is a bad idea because of that is quite irrational. It's like pretending that laws against murder are a bad idea because somebody was framed by a crooked cop in a murder case. An underlying idea isn't bad just because the application in a particular case is very flawed.

  • robc||

    If the student didn't have a free-speech point, I don't see why his right to sit while the rest of the class stands should be protected.

    All speech is free speech, even if it is remaining silent, even if it has no point behind it.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    It never occurs to the buffoons exercising that illusory free speech in a public school that there is nothing free about forced, mandatory schooling.

    And, I doubt seriously that these three beacons of liberty are anything more than surly wise asses, no different in fact, than the surly wise asses many of us were at that age.

    And anyone who believes that reciting the pledge is anything more than rote memorized habitual behavior and is as meaningless to most kids as heading for class at the sound of the first bell, has long ago forgotten the rituals of school attendance.

    Maybe the ACLU will one day ask if forcing kids to go to public school violates their civil rights.

  • ||

    I notice some use the term DRUNK DRIVER with out definition of the word.Do you mean .15,.12.10,08.05 or .02.They also leave out the fact that most accidents [around 93%] are caused by sober drivers.I think reckless driving should be punished the sane .Speed and inattentive driving are the largest causes of accidents and deaths.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Speed and inattentive driving are the largest causes of accidents and deaths.

    It isn't the speed, per se, it is the speed differential between lanes of traffic. Or speed with reckless driving. Or speed under unsafe conditions.

  • ||

    Wine Commonsewer,Very true and nice name.

  • robc||

    TWC,

    surly wise-assery is protected speech.

    Oh, and I agree with everything else you said in that post.

  • ||

    It's not the speed, it's the deceleration.

    If you drive your car off the road and end up in somebody's living room, because you were rooting around in the center console for a stick of gum, is that somehow less destructive than doing it while drunk?

    Anybody caught chewing gum in a car should lose his license.

  • ||

    Hello. Thank you Reason for taking an interest and thanks for all of the comments. If you want to read the arguments I made at the appeal here is a link to my briefs.

    http://www.jeffbrown2008.com/all_in_one2.pdf

  • ||

    "A car IS the equivalent of a guided missile when driven by a drunken moron with no respect for the lives of others on the road."

    A car is the equivalent of a guided missile whenever a SOBER person is driving. If a drunk is driving, that's "misguided."

  • ||

    A car IS the equivalent of a guided missile...

    So you routinely drive around with a hundred or so pounds of high explosive under your hood?

  • tarran||

    12 gallons of gasoline weighs close to 100 pounds...

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    A car IS the equivalent of a guided missile...

    There is this guy that has an Anglia with a Keith Black Hemi in it. Guided Missile is a bit of a conservative description.....

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    robc, the whole thing is insane, try drawing a picture of a pistola in art class and see how much free speech there is on campus.

    Jesus Chrysler, my daughter gave the entire front office heart failure when she brought a plastic replica of a .30 .30 to school AT THE REQUEST OF THE TEACHER to use as a prop in a play about the westward movement of America.

    One more argument for the outright abolition of public education.

  • PeeDub||

    So you routinely drive around with a hundred or so pounds of high explosive under your hood?

    There's nothing in the definition of a missile that requires it to be explosive. An arrow is a missile.

  • ||

    OK, I'll concede that Drunk Driving kills relatively few people, and that a DUI and jail time for walking your bike is completely retarded. HOWEVER, Driving drunk still kills people.
    You can prevent the flu to some degree by washing your hands and whatnot, but you have absolute control over whether or not you drive drunk. That's 34 thousand people a year that would still be alive if someone had just decided not to get behind the wheel, slept at a friend's house, or called a cab.
    You should be able to drive as drunk as you want on your own private property, and walking a bike home from a bar is no crime. However, I really have to disagree with your trivialization of drunk driving. It's not a strong argument, but I imagine that if the laws were less strict, there would be a lot more deaths, which are again, completely preventable.

  • Chris DeLettre||

    There are good cops, bad cops, and ugly, overzealous cops: of these latter ones you are probably going to have an experience (esp. In Florida) as it happens here in Jacksonville.
    My wife had a courteous, good officer stop her for what could have
    been about three tickets, but gave her one for an out of date decal, which we were going to get when he
    stopped us; And then... my son was ticketed once in Jax Beach for sipping a can of beer on July 4th near the edge of a sidewalk in front of a yard party;
    He also used to get a beer or two on
    the way to work on a bike and had a
    couple of wrecks, which could have been a dui offense, if he was able to
    receive it. Once he was heading to the drive-in restaurant for work, and ran into a fence gate beside the sidewalk and
    went face first into a gate. He is now 21 and has learned a little; He is lucky he didn't get a doa. Thank God.
    Lessons for what it's worth dept.
    cmd,jax,fl.

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  • dui attorney colorado springs||

    Thanks for the information. It is interesting to think about all that is going on and it really is sad that a DWI hit a bicyclist when they did nothing at all to them. I hope that the bicyclist wasn't hurt too bad.

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