The use of privately owned electric scooters, or ‘e-scooters’, in public is illegal. If you are caught using one, you will face the same consequence as a driver using a motor vehicle illegally. One outcome may be that you lose your driving licence, or opportunity of applying for one.
E-scooters are motor vehicles, by virtue of their designation as a Personal Light Electric Vehicle by the Department of Transport. As such, they have to comply with the same rules and regulations as a car. Taking an e-scooter onto the road becomes an offence!
If you are caught riding your e-scooter in public, the police will treat it as a motor vehicle. All the same rules apply; for example: third party insurance, driving licence regulations, construction, and use regulations. The conduct of the rider must also comply with the same requirements as any motor vehicle user. For example, the drink drive law must not be breached – they don’t mix, and this applies to e-scooter riders as well. You can’t use an e-scooter to get home after a boozy night! Recently, there have been two cases reported in the press of e-scooter riders being charged with drink driving.
On one occasion, an inebriated e-scooter rider was stopped after weaving dangerously through traffic. He was arrested under drink drive laws and ended up before the Magistrates. He was disqualified from driving for 20 months and fined.
Another case reported that an e-scooter rider was stopped in one of the Royal Parks over the holidays and will face a charge of drink driving and no insurance.
Does this sound the death knell for e-scooters? Apparently not! If the e-scooter is part of a ‘shared scheme’- think of a Boris Bike in the form of an e-scooter – then it may be part of new development in larger cities, and such use is permitted. The government is also considering lawful use of privately owned e-scooters following approved trials this year.
If you own an e-scooter and wish to use it in a public space, don’t! Wait until they are properly licensed for use. They are clearly a useful mode of transport, especially in the city, but you don’t want to lose your licence to enjoy the thrill!
Andrew Henley is a direct access barrister specialising in road traffic law, attending Magistrates’ Courts in Surrey, Hampshire and London.