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DPD Changes Gears, Will Now Enforce Drunk Biking Policy

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4) – Officials with the Denver Police Department are adjusting their enforcement policy regarding drinking and bikes after a scooter driver who got in a wreck with a biker claimed his case wasn’t being handled fairly.

In June 2011, John Wright was driving his scooter home when he collided with a bicyclist.

“Out of nowhere I found myself down on the concrete,” Wright said. “I was just wondering what the heck had happened. I had no idea.”

Wright was arrested for drunk driving, but the cyclist — who police say caused the accident and was equally intoxicated — was not.

“It wasn’t fair. It just wasn’t fair at all,” Wright said.

Wright found out state law prohibits drunk cycling, but that it was written into the Denver police manual not to enforce the law.

His complaint reached Denver police Lt. Rob Rock, who then became involved in an effort to change the policy.

“Looking into it, I didn’t have a sufficient reason as to why we weren’t. That’s why we took steps with the Denver DA’s office to rectify that policy,” said Rock, who said serious cycling accidents are on the rise as more people to choose to ride in the city.

This week Denver Police Chief Robert White ordered officers to start enforcing the state law. According to that law, someone can get a DUI if they are caught drunk on a bike.

The change in policy is not good news to some in Denver’s growing biking community. Brad Evans, who hosts Denver’s popular cruiser ride, says he fears police will begin an unnecessary crackdown.

“If the city is out promoting a more bike friendly community and its police force says ‘We’re cracking down because of X, Y, and Z,’ those two things don’t necessarily align,” said Evans, whose rides make stops at local bars.

Wright, meanwhile, says he has learned his lesson from the crash.

“It’s not going to be me and alcohol and anything motorized again,” he said.

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