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Joshua S. Reed Nov. 21, 2019

Can you be arrested for D.U.I. while operating an electric scooter? Under new laws in Tennessee, the answer is “Yes.”

If you have spent any time in downtown Knoxville recently, you have undoubtedly witnessed the electric scooters that have recently appeared on the streets. In March of 2019, the City of Knoxville authorized two specific ride-share electric scooter companies —Spin and Veoride —to begin their operations within specified zones downtown. To many, operating an electric scooter would appear to be a reasonable alternative to driving a car, especially after drinking any amount of alcohol. In fact, you may believe that taking an electric scooter would help you avoid a D.U.I. charge. After all, taking an electric scooter, on first glance, may appear to be a safer alternative to driving a car for purposes of avoiding a D.U.I. It may be surprising to learn, however, that under new Tennessee laws that went into effect on July 1, 2019, a person operating an electric can indeed be arrested and charged with D.U.I.

To be charged with a D.U.I., it must be shown that:

  1. A person is driving or is in physical control of any motor driven vehicle;

  2. A person must be driving on a public road, or street, or in a place open to the public at large; and

  3. One must have a blood alcohol level of .08 BAC or be under the influence of alcohol or any other intoxicant.

In order to understand the new laws enacted by the State of Tennessee, one must first look to definition of a motorized vehicle under Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-8-101. Prior to July of 2019, an electric scooter was not considered a motor-driven vehicle under the D.U.I. statute. After July 01, 2019, however, the Tennessee General Assembly amended the definition of a motor-driven vehicle to include electric scooters. This means that now a person driving or in physical control of an electric scooter can be charged with a D.U.I. if they are on a public road, street, or in a place open to the public at large, and they have a blood alcohol level of .08 BAC or are under the influence of alcohol or any other intoxicant.

You cannot assume that you are avoiding legal liability by taking a scooter after a night out. You must be careful if you decide to operate an electric scooter after consuming any amount of alcohol. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you have consumed alcohol, and you are contemplating operating an electric scooter, always take the safer option of calling an Uber, a Lyft, or relying on a designated driver, rather than risking a D.U.I. on your record. While an electric scooter may not place the public at risk as much as a car or a truck, the legal penalties for a D.U.I. on an electric scooter are no different than a D.U.I. in any other vehicle.

Our dedicated team is ready to represent you through the challenging circumstances and overwhelming questions that accompany a D.U.I. charge. If you have been charged with a D.U.I. or a D.U.I. related offense, do not hesitate to call the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed at (865) 320-9985, or email us at joshreed@knoxvilletnlaw.com.