Can you get a DUI on a Bird or Lime Scooter?

Posted on July 04, 2019 in Uncategorized


Now that motorized scooters are popping up all over the United States, the question becomes whether you can get a DUI on one? The short answer is depends on where you live. Los Angeles authorities have already obtained a DUI conviction for a person operating a motorized scooter. Looking around the web, it appears that Indiana, Illinois and Colorado residents would be at risk of a DUI arrest on a motorized scooter while Minnesota residents would not.

With the introduction of self-propelled scooters in Oklahoma City, the lawyers at the Hunsucker Legal Group are being asked "Can you get a DUI on one in Oklahoma"? Although we have not seen a case in Oklahoma yet, we examine state law for an answer.

We will examine Oklahoma law to determine the answer for the author's state.. This is the same type of analysis that would need to be done in your individual state to determine if you can receive a DUI in your state on a motorized scooter.

To be convicted of a DUI in Oklahoma, the State must show that you were:

  1. Driving
  2. With blood alcohol level of .08 or more or under the influence of alcohol
  3. A motor vehicle
  4. On a public road or public place (the statutory definition is more detailed but shortened here for relevancy)

Looking at the first element of driving, it is generally construed as operating. This is an interesting element as Oklahoma also has a charge of Actual Physical Control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol (APC). APC is generally defined as the ability to operate the vehicle which leaves a lot open for interpretation of when you actually have the ability to operate the scooter. Is it when you activate the app? The Oklahoma Appellate courts have not given us any clear definition of what actual physical control is or isn't.

The second element of having a BAC over .08 is pretty clear. However, Oklahoma has a lesser crime of Driving While Impaired which is operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of .06 or .07 and having impairment.

The third and fourth elements are the elements most relevant to whether you can get a DUI or APC on a scooter. Oklahoma has a statutory definition of motorized scooter. Looking at 47 O.S. 1-133.3, a motorized scooter is defined as a vehicle not having more than three wheels, must have handle bars and a foot support or seat, have a power source capable of propelling the vehicle not more than 25 mph, and if the power source is electric the power output is not more than 1000 watts.

Looking at available online specs for Lime and Bird scooters, they have 2 tandem wheels (wheels in a line) and have handlebars and foot support. Although Lime doesn't share its scooter specs, it appears that both companies' scooters are unable to exceed 25 mph. The wattage of the Bird scooter is 500 watts and I am speculating that the Lime scooter is in the same power range.

Clearly these are motorized scooters as defined by Oklahoma law. Are they also considered a motor vehicle under Oklahoma statutes? A motor vehicle is defined as "any vehicle" which is self-propelled but does not include "implements of husbandry", "electric personal assistive mobility devices" or "motorized wheelchairs".

Implements of husbandry are devices used exclusively for farming and livestock raising operations. A motorized scooter would not fall under this definition. Electric personal assistive mobility devices are devices that are self-balancing and have two nontandem wheels designed to transport one person. This would be similar to a Segway. Lime and Bird scooters don't fall under this definition as the wheels are one in front of the other which is tandem. A motorized wheelchair is a self-propelled vehicle designed for and used by a person with a disability and cannot go faster than 8 mph. The Lime and Bird scooters are capable of exceeding 8 mph and thus, would not fall under this exception.

Thus, under Oklahoma DUI law, the Lime and Bird scooters would be considered a motor vehicle under Oklahoma law. The last issue to consider is where the scooters are operated. If the scooters are operated on the public roadway or public street, then seems clear that is included under the statute. The question become whether operating the scooter on the sidewalk or in the parking lot of a business qualifies under the Oklahoma DUI statutes for a DUI.

The short answer is yes. If you are operating upon any "public roads, highways, streets, turnpikes, other public places or upon any private road, street, alley or lane which provides access to one or more single or multi-family dwelling". The sidewalk would be considered a public place under Oklahoma statutory and case law.

John Hunsucker is the lead DUI attorney of the Hunsucker Legal Group in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. John is a Regent with NCDD and is the co-author of 19 books on DUI Defense including Oklahoma DUI Defense, The Law and Practice.

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