Can You Be Arrested for Scootering Under the Influence?

Woman in work attire with a backpack on an electric scooter at night.
By Jaclyn Rainey on July 15, 2019 12:01 PM

Who doesn’t want to start their morning by watching a person in a three-piece suit whiz past on an electric scooter reminiscent of the early 2000s Razor era? “Late for a meeting!” they may shout back as they whisk themselves down the block and into an office building. “What did I just see?” you may think to yourself.

If you haven’t experienced this yet, take note: Scooters are not just for kids anymore. They are entering the mainstream as various cities add pay-to-use scooter rentals from brands like JUMP, Spin, and Lime for fast, cheap, leave-them-anywhere transportation. Even Lyft is getting in on the action with rentable scooters. It is all in the name of fun (and getting somewhere fast), but there can be a dangerous side. In the hands of hurried people, scooters – many motorized ones can go up to 15 mph – can move fast enough to hurt operators or innocent bystanders.

Add alcohol to the mix and you may have a perfect storm.

Scooter Laws Are Similar to Bike Laws

A scooter or moped can fall under different laws depending on the size of its engine if there is one. No engine means it is legal for all ages to ride (but pay attention to helmet laws in your state). If the engine is 50 cubic centimeters or smaller, you likely need a driver’s license or a driver’s learning permit to use it. If the engine is larger than that, you may be looking at a need for a motorcycle license.

Most scooter companies offering rentals will generally assume you have a license, but they do not require a helmet, since that does not often come with the rental. Review each specific brand's policies before renting.

So, Can I Be Drunk?

No. Honestly, there are few things you can legally do while drunk in public, so it is not surprising that scootering drunk will fall under public intoxication or a DUI/OWI.

Your state’s alcohol laws may vary, but you aren’t even allowed to walk drunk in most places. In fact, even being drunk next to a scooter can get you in trouble. It does not even need to be on. If it looks like you are about to take it for a ride, then the police may have enough reasonable suspicion to question you or make an arrest.

Pay attention to the blood alcohol levels allowed in your state to stay on the safe side. If you don’t, then jumping on a 15-mph scooter and drunkenly screaming, “Look, no hands!” may land you a DUI faster than you can say “gotta scoot.”

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