Drinking while biking faces government opposition

Senate proposal to relax alcohol rules is not favored by ministries

Rumors that people in the Czech Republic could soon drink alcohol while they are biking have been greatly exaggerated. The Czech government is not expected to support a recent Senate proposal that bicycle riders under the moderate influence of alcohol not be fined. Under current law, the same zero tolerance levels for alcohol consumption apply to drivers of both motorized vehicles and pedal-powered ones. The Czech Republic is one of only three countries in the European Union to have zero tolerance of alcohol for cycling, according to the Czech Senate.

The ministries of Interior, Transportation and Agriculture, as well as insurance associations and the Supreme Prosecutor's Office are all in agreement on not supporting the proposal, according to the Cabinet's website.

The Transport Ministry opposes the change in the law because a person under the influence of alcohol on a bicycle poses a threat not only to themself, but to others using the road.

The Senate proposal, based on an Austrian legal model, envisages that cyclists would not be punished for having a few beers or glasses of wine. The draft states that when riding on the trails, in villages or third-class roads, cyclists could have up to 0.8 permille (0.08 percent) blood alcohol content. Another condition is that alcohol level does not impair the ability to control the bike.

The Transportation Ministry also opposes the reduction of the fine for cycling under the influence of alcohol from the current Kč 2,500–20,000 crowns to a maximum of Kč 500.

The Senate proposal was put forward by Senate Vice President Zdeněk Škromach (ČSSD) and 20 other senators. Škromach said that, for example, the law makes it almost impossible to go cycling on wine trails in Moravia that were intentionally designed to lead from vineyards to wine cellars in the region so cyclists could enjoy Moravian wine. Škromach is from the South Moravia region.

The Ministry of Interior said that in 2015 in the Czech Republic there were 4,226 traffic accidents among cyclists, with 68 fatalities, 394 serious injuries and 3,138 slight injuries. Cyclists caused 783 accidents, with nearly one-third of them involving alcohol use.

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