Did you know that e-scooters fall within the definition of a motor vehicle? You would not be alone if you said no. Due to the growing popularity of e-scooters and general ignorance in respect of the laws governing them, the Metropolitan Police have issued an open letter to retailers to warn purchasers where they are illegal to use.
This is timely advice given that E-scooters are reported as being a top-selling Christmas gift this year.
All privately owned e-scooters are illegal to use in public places and on the road. It should be noted, however, that this does not apply to trials of rented scooters currently taking place on a limited basis in some areas such as Liverpool.
In Liverpool, E-scooter company Voi are providing a fleet of the carbon-neutral vehicles which will be available for public hire at key sites around Liverpool city centre.
The e-scooters travel at a maximum speed of around 10mph, reducing to 5mph in areas with high numbers of pedestrians, and their use is electronically restricted to the city centre.
E-scooters on the trial are unlocked using a mobile app and available only to people over the age of 18 who hold a UK driving license.
Why and where are they illegal to use?
As a result of the way that they are motorised and designed, the e-scooter falls within the definition of a motor vehicle.
This means that the laws applying to motor vehicles also apply to e-scooters so one cannot be used on a public road without complying with the appropriate legal requirements.
As well as public roads the law applies to spaces set aside for pedestrians including pavements and cycle lanes.
The law also applies to other so-called “powered transporters” such as segways, hoverboards and go-peds. It does not apply to electrically assisted bikes (although these have their own regulations).
What are the legal requirements for use?
In principle, if a user could meet the same requirements as a motor vehicle user, they may be able to use public roads. This would include insurance, licensing, registration, driving licence, use of safety equipment and conformity with technical standards.
It is unlikely, however, that an e-scooter user would be able to conform with all the requirement leaving it illegal to use in these places.
Is it legal to use them anywhere?
It is legal to use an e-scooter on private land if you have the permission of the landowner.
What are the penalties?
There is a range of offences that could be committed, from simple use on the road a penalty could be a fine, penalty points or disqualification. Use, whilst under the influence of drink or drugs, would be more serious and can lead to imprisonment.
Has anyone actually been prosecuted?
There are recorded cases of prosecutions involving segways, go-peds and a “City Bug” electric scooter.
If in any doubt please seek legal advice before use.
How can we help?
If you would like to discuss any aspect of your case, please contactour crime team on 0151 4805777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org