Scooting While Intoxicated? Yes, You Can Get a DWI For That
As Dallas grapples with new regulations and an increase in motorized scooters hitting our streets – especially in some of our denser neighborhoods – riders may find themselves asking an inevitable question when leaving a bar: Can I get a DWI for this?
If you routinely use motorized scooters to get around town and especially if you have used them to ferry yourself between bars on the weekend, you need to know the repercussions.
The short answer to the aforementioned question is, Yes, you can get a DWI for operating a scooter while drunk.
First off, there’s a difference between being arrested for DWI and actually being convicted. Across the country, stories are popping up about motorized scooter riders being arrested and charged with DWI after operating a motorized scooter AND being over the legal BAC limit. However, there are far fewer stories of those individuals actually being convicted.
Consumer Affairs reported in April 2019 that Lime was working on a drunken driving detection feature that would slow down the scooters if it detected irregular driving. According to the same story, the first reported incident involving a drunk scooter driver occurred in September 2018. A Los Angeles man with a BAC three times the legal limit hit a pedestrian. He was later convicted. A woman in Albuquerque who was filmed shouting obscenities at police officers when they stopped her for riding the wrong way on a one-way street in the New Mexico city was charged less than a week after the city unveiled its new scooters.
While no one in Dallas or Texas has yet been convicted of intoxicated scooting, the law is pretty clear that if you operate a scooter while drunk, you could get charged with DWI.
Texas law defines a motor vehicle as: “a device in, on, or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn on a highway, except a device used exclusively on stationary rails or tracks.”(Texas Penal Code Sec. 32.34(a)(2)) By that definition, anything, including a scooter, could be a motor vehicle.
If you’re pulled over on a motorized scooter and the officer determines you have been drinking, your chances of getting a DWI are excellent. Even if you’re not intoxicated, there’s still a likely chance that you could be arrested simply because you’ve recently consumed alcohol. And it’s a lot easier to stop and detain you when you’re on a scooter than in your car.
If you’re stopped on suspicion of DWI while operating a motorized scooter, here’s our advice.
Do not take the field sobriety test. It’s much simpler to defend your case if you haven’t completed a disastrous FST. As we’ve shared with you numerous times in the past, the field sobriety test is DESIGNED for you to fail. If you’re overly tired or even mildly buzzed, you don’t stand a chance. The best strategy is to not take one at all and leave the defense of that decision up to your attorney.
Finally, many individuals mistakenly believe that they are making a smarter decision to take a motorized scooter vs. their cars while bar-hopping on the weekends. While it’s true that an individual operating a motorized scooter will endanger fewer lives, that doesn’t make it safe. Motorized scooters do not come with helmets and there are few protections in place to help operators avoid a drunken collision with an equally distracted or intoxicated driver. Don’t put yourself at risk. When in doubt, call an Uber or Lyft. That’s kind of the beauty of the motorized scooter. Take one to the bar, Uber it home, no risk for yourself or others.