The Virginia Code states:
It shall be unlawful for any person to drive or operate any motor vehicle…
Unlike some states and federal DWI law, drunk driving under Virginia law is limited to driving or operating a “motor” vehicle. “Motor vehicle” is defined as:
“Motor vehicle” means every vehicle as defined in this section that is self-propelled or designed for self-propulsion except as otherwise provided in this title. Any structure designed, used, or maintained primarily to be loaded on or affixed to a motor vehicle to provide a mobile dwelling, sleeping place, office, or commercial space shall be considered a part of a motor vehicle. Except as otherwise provided, for the purposes of this title, any device herein defined as a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, or moped shall be deemed not to be a motor vehicle. Virginia Code 46.2-100
Can I get a DWI for riding a bike drunk in Virginia?
No and yes! Not in state court because a bike is not defined as a “motor vehicle.” But, it is possible to be charged with biking under the influence in a federal park inside Virginia though. Federal law uses the term “vehicle” instead of “motor vehicle” so bicycles are included.
Why did I get charged with a DUI? I was riding a moped.
You’re correct that a moped is not defined as a motor vehicle. However, the DWI law sticks a line in at the end declaring that:
For the purposes of this article, the term “motor vehicle” includes mopeds, while operated on the public highways of this Commonwealth. Virginia Code 18.2-266
Notice though, that unlike other motor vehicles, you have to be riding a moped on a “highway.” If you are in a private parking lot or on other private property you can not be convicted of “moped DUI.”
What the law says:
§ 18.2-266. Driving motor vehicle, engine, etc., while intoxicated, etc.
It shall be unlawful for any person to drive or operate any motor vehicle, engine or train (i) while such person has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more by weight by volume or 0.08 grams or more per 210 liters of breath as indicated by a chemical test administered as provided in this article, (ii) while such person is under the influence of alcohol, (iii) while such person is under the influence of any narcotic drug or any other self-administered intoxicant or drug of whatsoever nature, or any combination of such drugs, to a degree which impairs his ability to drive or operate any motor vehicle, engine or train safely, (iv) while such person is under the combined influence of alcohol and any drug or drugs to a degree which impairs his ability to drive or operate any motor vehicle, engine or train safely, or (v) while such person has a blood concentration of any of the following substances at a level that is equal to or greater than: (a) 0.02 milligrams of cocaine per liter of blood, (b) 0.1 milligrams of methamphetamine per liter of blood, (c) 0.01 milligrams of phencyclidine per liter of blood, or (d) 0.1 milligrams of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine per liter of blood. A charge alleging a violation of this section shall support a conviction under clauses (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), or (v).
For the purposes of this article, the term “motor vehicle” includes mopeds, while operated on the public highways of this Commonwealth.