Can I Get a DUI Charge on an Electric Scooter in Florida?
With its tropical year-round weather, scooters have become an increasingly popular way to get around in the Sunshine State. In January, Orlando launched a pilot program allowing scooters to be used in the city for one year, to see if residents can safely ride them without leading to injuries. Orlando had previously launched a successful program making bicycles available around downtown, and now the city hopes electric scooters provide local commuters and those visiting downtown’s attractions another good option for transportation.
Downtown Orlando is a popular spot for the city’s bar and nightclub scene, which has raised the question of whether people using the electric scooters will drink — then decide to ride it home, possibly intoxicated. It’s an issue that city officials have already contemplated.
Jae Cox, Lime Orlando’s operations manager, has urged those using e-scooters to wear a helmet when riding, stay in bike lanes, and be aware that they could get a DUI while riding a scooter. As Cox noted:
“They’re treated just like bicycles in Orlando. You can receive some penalty for riding a bike inebriated so you’d be able to, as well, for scooters.”
If you’ve been charged with a DUI while using an electric scooter, don’t assume Florida law doesn’t take the charge as seriously because you weren’t in a car. Contact an experienced Orlando DUI attorney to review your case first.
Can You Get a DUI in Any Kind of Vehicle?
As convenient as electric scooters are for people looking to get around cities like Orlando and Tampa without fighting morning traffic congestion or paying for parking, it would be a mistake to assume that you can avoid getting a DUI. If you’re going to be out drinking at night in downtown, it’s best to arrange for an Uber home or have a sober friend provide transportation, because you can definitely get arrested for DUI on a scooter.
Some people might assume that a DUI charge wouldn’t apply to a scooter because unlike a car, you can’t cause much damage while riding one, so it’s not a big deal. That’s a mistaken assumption. In Florida, it’s illegal to drink and drive in a “vehicle,” and under state law, that word is defined very broadly.
Florida’s Driving Under The Influence law doesn’t specify that it has to be a car or truck, but can be anything that transports someone from one place to another. That means you can get charged with a DUI in Florida for riding:
- Electric scooters
- Golf carts
The issue for the state is public intoxication and not the specific vehicle. It’s also about safety; while an electric scooter may not be able to do much damage to another vehicle that it hits, the state does not want intoxicated people on electric scooters rushing out in front of a car and provoking tragic accidents. In past cases, Florida’s DUI vehicle laws have been applied to some unique circumstances, including a man on an expressway riding a horse and a man driving a riding mower home from his local liquor store.
What are the Penalties in Florida for a DUI on a Scooter?
You can be found guilty of driving under the influence if you’re operating a vehicle with a BAC of .08 or higher, and a guilty verdict will lead to the same penalties if you were riding a scooter as if you had been operating a motor vehicle.
First, you could lose your license from a DUI conviction. You can also face fines, your insurance rates can get raised to the point where it may be difficult to maintain coverage, and you could face jail time as well. Your first DUI will be a misdemeanor charge, which can lead to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000, plus 50 hours of community service.
Contact an Orlando DUI Attorney Today
If you’ve been charged with DUI on an electric scooter, our team of Orlando DUI defense lawyers at The Umansky Law Firm can help protect your freedom. We can evaluate your case, make you aware of potential penalties, and serve as your legal representation throughout the legal process. If you’ve never been charged or arrested for DUI before, you may be eligible to get your charge dropped in a DUI diversion program. In many cases, we may be able to reduce your charge to a civil citation.
Whether you’re a Florida resident or tourist, we can help you fight for justice. At The Umansky Law Firm, we have more than 100 years of combined experience defending criminal charges in Central Florida. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation.