California’s DUI laws can be complex and confusing. In this section, our attorneys break down the rules and explain the process.
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Yes, it is possible to get charged with a DUI for operating an e-scooter under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Most states have DUI laws that apply to motorized scooters. This includes Lime or Bird e-scooters. However, some states have DUI laws that only apply to vehicles with larger motors.
The particular language in each state’s driving under the influence law will matter.
A conviction for DUI is serious. This is true even if it happened on a Lime or Bird scooter. Defendants can face penalties that include:
All states have laws that forbid driving under the influence (DUI). Some states forbid driving a motor vehicle while inebriated. Other states forbid driving any vehicle while under the influence.
In states that forbid drunk driving on any vehicle, e-scooters fall within the scope of the law. In these states, people can get a DUI while driving or riding:
Some of the states that prohibit drunk driving any vehicle include:
DUI laws in other states, though, only apply to motor vehicles. Some of these states are:
In these states, it will depend on whether an e-scooter is a “motor vehicle.”
The e-scooters provided by Bird or Lime can be considered a “motor vehicle.” It depends on how the state’s DUI law defines the term.
Many states define “motor vehicle” very broadly. In some of them, e-scooters will be considered a motor vehicle. In these states, riding a Lime or Bird e-scooter while drunk can lead to a DUI.
Texas, for example, is a state that defines “motor vehicle” extremely broadly.8 Under the definition, electric scooters are considered motor vehicles. Riding one while drunk in Texas can lead to a DUI.
Nebraska, however, has a narrow definition of a “motor vehicle.”9 In Nebraska, a motor vehicle is any “self-propelled land vehicle,” except for:
Law enforcement there has determined that Lime and Bird’s e-scooters are too similar to bikes, mopeds, and assistive mobility devices to be considered a motor vehicle.10 Riding one while drunk cannot lead to a DUI in Nebraska, unless local ordinances say otherwise.
Yes, e-scooter riders who get convicted for DUI may lose their driver’s license.
A license suspension is a common penalty for a DUI conviction.
However, many people ride shared e-scooters without a driver’s license to suspend. Drunk driving an e-scooter is also less dangerous to the public than drunk driving a car. As a result, some e-scooter DUIs end without a license suspension.11
By riding a shared e-scooter from Lime or Bird while under the influence, the rider violates the terms of the user agreement. Breaking the user agreement allows Lime or Bird to escape liability from anything that goes wrong. The rider will have to pay the costs of a crash out of their own pocket.
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.