Can You Get A DUI on an Electric Scooter?
In some neighborhoods, electric scooters seem to be everywhere: The bright green of the Lime scooter calls out to you from every corner. But ever since these “micro mobility” devices began popping up, injuries have been on the rise: According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) there were 42,200 emergency room visits in 2021 related to electric scooters, an increase from less than 30,000 the previous two years.
The potential for personal injury—not to mention property damage—is one reason that electric scooters are regulated the same as cars when it comes to getting a driving under the influence (DUI) charge in Oklahoma. Here’s everything you need to know before you have a drink and hop on a scooter.
Can You Get a DUI on an Electric Scooter?
The short answer is yes: One of the ways you can get a DUI when you aren’t driving a car is if you’re operating an electric scooter. Oklahoma treats all “motorized vehicles” the same under the law, whether you’re driving a car, electric scooter, electric bicycle, or off-road vehicle. A motor vehicle is any device with wheels that’s driven by a motor—and an electric scooter qualifies. The most common situations that can get you in trouble are if you’re:
- In an accident on your electric scooter. Even if the accident isn’t your fault, the investigating officer who arrives on the scene can still arrest you for DUI.
- Stopped at a DUI checkpoint. (Yes, you can be stopped at a checkpoint when you’re on a scooter!)
- Cited for a traffic violation, and the officer suspects you’re under the influence. Traffic laws for scooters vary by state and region.
What Oklahoma Laws Apply to Electric Scooters?
The same traffic laws apply whether you’re driving an electric scooter or a car, including:
- Stopping at traffic lights
- Stopping for people in crosswalks
- Other right-of-way laws
There are also laws specific to scooters—and some of them may surprise you:
- Riders under 18 must wear a helmet.
- Only one person is allowed per scooter.
- You cannot tow anything behind you.
- In most areas, including Tulsa and Oklahoma, you can’t drive an electric scooter on the sidewalk.
Violating any of these laws can get you cited for a traffic violation, and that can get you a DUI on an electric scooter. In Oklahoma, a DUI means you were:
- Driving: The scooter is in motion or you have actual physical control of it.
- Operating a motor vehicle: Oklahoma defines an electric scooter as a vehicle with not more than three wheels, a handlebar, and an electric or combustion engine. This meets the definition of a motor vehicle under the law.
- In a public place: “Public place” has a broad definition in Oklahoma, and, similar to public intoxication, most areas where you would be riding an electric scooter would qualify.
- Impaired with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or more: The officer can determine your BAC with a breathalyzer or a blood test. If your BAC is between .06 and .08, you can still be charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI). The main difference between DUI and DWI is the severity of the punishment.
Can I Get a DUI on a Lime or Bird Scooter?
Yes—both Lime and Bird scooters are considered motor vehicles under Oklahoma law. Both have two tandem wheels, a handlebar, and are propelled by electric motors. They can go about 15 miles per hour, although cities are free to set speed limits below that number. While that may not seem very fast (a non-motorized bicycle can go just as fast), the law still considers a scooter as dangerous as a car.
What’s the Punishment for a DUI on an Electric Scooter?
When you get a DUI on an electric scooter, you’ll receive the same punishment as if you were driving a car:
- First offense: Your first DUI is a misdemeanor charge with up to $1,000 in fines and a year in jail. However, you probably won’t go to jail for your first offense, as long as no one was hurt.
- Second offense: Your second DUI is a felony with up to $2,500 in fines and five years in jail.
- Third offense: Your third DUI is also a felony and can get you up to $5,000 in fines and 10 years in jail.
Keep in mind that in Oklahoma, a DUI is a DUI. If you have a previous conviction from driving a car, truck, RV, tractor, or any other motor vehicle under the influence, your DUI on an electric scooter will count as an additional offense.
Fines and jail aren’t the only way that getting a DUI on an electric scooter will affect your life. You’ll have to go to DUI school, attend a victim impact panel, and be evaluated for your drug and alcohol use. You’ll likely lose your license, at least temporarily, although you may be able to get it back through the Impaired Driver Accountability Program (IDAP). And, your car insurance rates can skyrocket, or your insurance could drop you entirely.
How Can You Fight a DUI from Riding an Electric Scooter?
Like the punishment, your options to fight a DUI on an electric scooter are similar to if you were driving a car, including:
- Get it dismissed: Getting a DUI dismissed isn’t easy, and it isn’t always an option. However, if law enforcement made an error during your traffic stop or arrest, for example, not having probable cause to stop you or not following the right protocol for a Standard Field Sobriety Test, your lawyer may be able to file a successful motion to dismiss.
- Dispute the test results: There are specific rules officers must follow when administering a breathalyzer, including observing you for 15 minutes prior to giving the test and ensuring you don’t have anything in your mouth. If your arresting officer made a mistake, or the device wasn’t properly maintained and certified, your breathalyzer results may not be accurate.
- Get a deferred or suspended sentence: If you get a DUI on an electric scooter and it’s your first offense, you can likely get a deferred sentence, which means you will serve probation and your case will be dismissed and partially expunged at the end of your time. You could also get a suspended sentence for a minor, nonviolent crime like a DUI. The conviction will not be automatically expunged, but you won’t serve jail time.
The Bottom Line
The answer to “Can you get a DUI on an electric scooter?” is definitely yes in Oklahoma. It’s always smart to take public transportation or call a rideshare service if you’ve been drinking. But it’s also an easy mistake to make. An experienced Oklahoma DUI lawyer can provide peace of mind as you navigate your case, and help you get the best possible outcome. Contact the Tulsa DUI Guy today for expert advice and representation. You can’t take back your mistake, but you can move forward and learn from it.