Electric scooters have started to pop up everywhere across North Carolina. Sometimes called “bird” scooters (named after the company that rents them), it seems like everywhere you look, someone is whizzing by on one of these two-wheeled gadgets. These scooters can be lots of fun and can take you from point A to point B faster than on foot, but anyone who rides one needs to be aware of the laws that govern them. Specifically, you should know that North Carolina DWI laws apply to Bird scooters, just as they do to cars, buses, trucks, and other vehicles.
Here, we review North Carolina’s DWI laws and how Bird scooters fit into the law. If you have received a ticket while riding a scooter or have any additional questions about scooters and DWI laws, an experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney can answer your questions and assist with your defense.
What Constitutes a DWI in North Carolina?
Driving while impaired, or DWI, in North Carolina is defined in North Carolina G.S. 20-138.1.
The statute prohibits driving anyvehicle on a highway, street, or public area:
- while under the influence of an impairing substance,
- when the person has consumed alcohol and has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more, or
- with any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance.
The key word to note in this definition is the word vehicle. The question is, for DWI law, is a bird scooter a vehicle?
Is a Bird Scooter a “Vehicle”?
The short answer is, yes, a Bird is a vehicle under North Carolina law.
While the DWI statute itself does not define vehicle, the North Carolina state court of appeals ruled in a 2005 case (State v. Crow) that a scooter does, in fact, fall within the definition of “vehicle” for purposes of DWI law. That means that operating a scooter while intoxicated could result in a DWI.
Consequences of A Bird Scooter DWI Conviction
The penalties for and consequences of a bird scooter DWI conviction are the same as those for driving any other vehicle, such as a car, while intoxicated. Courts will consider various aggravating and mitigating factors when determining your punishment, such as your prior driving record and how high your blood alcohol level was.
Depending on the specifics of the charge, a scooter DWI conviction could result in jail time, fines, probation, substance abuse treatment, higher insurance premiums, and license revocation, among others.
Bird scooters may look like all fun and games, but the consequences can be severe. If you have been charged with a DWI while riding a Bird scooter, Cotten Firm can help. Reach out to us for a free consultation to see how Attorney Jeremy Cotten can help you build a strong defense.