Scooting Under the Influence: Man Earns LA's First DUI on Electric Scooter

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on October 04, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It was inevitable. We've seen DUIs on ATVs and wheelchairs; on horseback and horse-and-buggy carts; on forklifts, tractors, and motorized shopping carts. So once people started tooling around cities on electric scooters, this story started writing itself.

According to authorities, Nicholas Kauffroath was riding a Bird electric scooter on a sidewalk in West Los Angeles with a blood alcohol level of approximately 0.279 (over three times the legal limit) when he knocked down a pedestrian and neglected to stop or find help. Thus, Nicholas becomes perhaps the country's first scooting under the influence arrest.

Two-Wheeled Troublemakers

Like ridesharing apps before them, electric rental scooter companies intending to disrupt city transit. Instead, cities weren't too keen on having their sidewalks (and canals) littered with injured pedestrians and abandoned scooters. Still, Bird and Lime scooters have remained prevalent in Los Angeles and Santa Monica since last year. Riders pay $1 to rent and 15 cents per minute to ride the scooters, using the companies' apps to find nearby scooters and scanning codes on the handlebars to unlock them.

"Drinking while operating a vehicle, a bike -- or a scooter -- is not only illegal, but can lead to serious injury or worse," according to Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer. "This conviction demonstrates our office's continued effort to enforce our drunk driving laws and make our streets and sidewalks safer."

Safe Streets

Feuer's office said Kauffroath pleaded no contest to one count of operating a motorized scooter while under the influence and one count of hit-and-run. As part of the plea, Kauffroath was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay a $550 fine, as well as restitution to the victim. He will also be required to complete a three-month DUI program, and stay off scooters while drinking.

Which would be good advice for us all.

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