PUNTA GORDA, Fla. - If you're thinking about hopping on your bicycle after having a few drinks, you might want to think again. A Punta Gorda man learned, you can get a D.U.I. on practically anything that moves.
Wednesday afternoon, 911 dispatchers started getting calls about a bicyclist swerving in and out of traffic on U.S. 41 in Punta Gorda. “Two of the people that called in, one was a minivan that had to swerve to get out of the way and that could've run off the road, killed them, killed him,” Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Office Bob Carpenter said.
It wasn't someone who needed a little more practice with his training wheels. “He was extremely intoxicated,” Carpenter said.
63 year old Joseph Rizzuto's eyes were bloodshot, his speech was slurred and he reeked of alcohol. He was so drunk, he had to lean on his bicycle to even stand up. “Here was not a motorized vehicle but he was endangering himself and the public,” Carpenter said.
That's where the charges come in. It doesn’t matter what means of transportation, whether it's a car, a bicycle, or a horse, if you're intoxicated and putting other drivers in danger, you'll get a D.U.I. “Golf cart, lawn mower, riding a lawn mower if you're riding it on the roadway, any horse, if you ride a horse on the roadway it's considered a vehicle at that point,” Cpl. Mark Crissinger said.
Crissinger, of the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office says no matter what you drive or ride, when you're on the road, you have to abide by the same laws as any motor vehicle. “The penalties are the same as far as jail time and such,” Crissinger said.
Rizzuto's bicycle was later dropped off at this home while he was taken to jail. According to his arrest report, he's been convicted of at least 4 dui's in the past. “Motor or not, he was drunk, he was on the road, he's in jail,” Carpenter said.
Rizzuto does not currently have a Florida state driver's license. It was permanently revoked in 1997 for D.U.I.