The D.C. Court of Appeals today upheld the conviction of a man charged with operating a vehicle under the influence — in this case, a bike.
In an eight-page opinion, Judge Vanessa Ruiz wrote that the case presented an issue of first impression in the District of Columbia: whether a bike is legally synonymous with a car and other types of vehicles for purposes of the DUI statute.
Baker N. Everton contended that the bicycle he was riding in Northwest Washington in 2007 was not a vehicle under the D.C. Traffic Act of 1925, which states that "no person shall operate or be in physical control of any vehicle in the District…[w]hile under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug or combination thereof."
Ruiz disagreed, noting that the plain language of the statute is clear, that a vehicle is "any appliance moved over a highway on wheels or traction tread, including street cars, draft animals, and beasts of burden."
She also stated that a 1926 amendment to the act was "designed to remove any possible doubt about its all-encompassing character."
According to the opinion, Everton was pulled over by two officers of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department after he almost hit a small child at the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Otis Place. N.W on Jan. 12, 2007.
Senior Judges John Ferren and Frank Schwelb joined Ruiz’s opinion.