Can You Avoid a DUI Checkpoint If You're on a Scooter?

By Lisa M. Schaffer, Esq. on September 19, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In a fantastic testament to the human spirit, people who choose to drink are increasingly more aware of drinking and driving. And the ride-sharing companies of the world thank you for that. But what about the new scooter rental companies? Can you legally drive a scooter while intoxicated? And the answer to that is, it depends.

Driving a Motorized Scooter Under the Influence Is Illegal

As tempting as it may be to grab that Bird rental scooter outside the bar you just stumbled out of to get home quickly, safely, and cheaply, just say no. Though every state DUI law is different, it is illegal to operate a motorized vehicle under the influence.

Of course, the question becomes is an electric scooter a motorized vehicle for the purposes of a DUI? Again, every state law is different. In California, without going through all the legal mumbo jumbo of defining this and that, the short answer is it is illegal, but it is not necessarily a DUI.

Operating an e-scooter under the influence may only be an infraction, not a misdemeanor, in certain instances depending on a host of factors involved. Note that California could easily decide to raise that infraction to a misdemeanor by passing a law, like it did with bicycles. However, with an infraction, the rider only has to be under the influence, but does not have to have a certain blood alcohol limit to be cited. So yes, it's an infraction, but could be so so at, say, just 0.04% BAC.

Bootstrapping Illegalities

Let's take, for instance, a situation where a person is driving a motorized scooter with a BAC over 0.08%, just for fun. What can the legal system do at a Checkpoint? Possibly a lot. First, though this may only be an infraction, not a misdemeanor, it can result in a suspended license. Was the rider on the sidewalk? If yes, there's another violation. Wearing a helmet? If no, another violation. Drunk in public? If yes, ah, another violation. And of course if there was any resisting arrest going on, then pile that on too. As you can see, one event can lead to a lot of legal violations.

If you, or your friend, are involved in a DUI while driving a scooter, contact a local DUI attorney. The laws regarding DUIs and scooters are constantly evolving, as are the scooters themselves. A seasoned veteran may be able to minimize your penalty, and maximize your understanding.

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