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Lime has now arrived in Spokane, and they offer bicycles, electric bikes and electric scooters. Some people use the electric scooters on their trip to work or home from work home, and others simply use them recreationally around town. In the recreational context, a person might take a Lime scooter home after becoming intoxicated from alcohol or high from marijuana. In that case, what comes to issue is whether a Lime electric scooter rider can be arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or both. That all depends on whether an electric scooter is a vehicle as defined by the laws of the State of Washington.

Motor Vehicle Defined

As per RCW 46.04.320, Washington defines a motor vehicle as “any vehicle that is self-propelled.” The controlling statute does consider some electrically operated devices as motor vehicles, but an electric scooter may fall outside of those devices. That’s because they’re electrically assisted and not electrically operated.

Washington Supreme Court Ruling

Washington’s DUI statute is found at RCW 46.61.502. It pivots on a person who drives a motor vehicle in the state with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher. There are two important words here. The first word is “vehicle.” The second word is “drives.” The Supreme Court of the State of Washington has already held that a bicycle isn’t a motor vehicle. Under that same reasoning, an electric scooter may not be a motor vehicle either. People don’t drive an electric scooter either. They ride them, and the top speed is 15 mph. They’re far less likely to cause serious injuries or deaths than a 4,500 SUV traveling 50 mph.

Other Traffic Laws

The Washington Supreme Court’s decision doesn’t mean that a person can ride an electric scooter around town like a drunken sailor three sheets to the wind. When on public roadways, there are rules of the road that must be followed.

Contact a Spokane DUI Lawyer

With electric bicycles and electric scooters spreading throughout the state, Washington’s legislature appears to have some work ahead of it. If you’ve been charged with DUI anywhere in or around Spokane, you’re going to want to speak with an experienced and effective Spokane DUI lawyer as soon as possible. You can contact our offices to arrange for a free consultation. We’re going to listen to you carefully and answer your questions. After that, we’ll advise you of your full range of legal options. Contact us right away after any DUI arrest.

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