If you have not noticed yet, Downtown Nashville has been recently flooded with Lime and Bird scooters. They are on nearly every sidewalk. Drive downtown and you will soon realize what a traffic hazard they are. WSMV ran a story of the increased business at Vanderbilt's Trauma Unit. In addition to a safety hazard, are these scooters also a legal hazard?
Can you be arrested for DUI in Tennessee while operating one of these scooters? Oklahoma DUI lawyer Bruce Edge asked the same question in his blog post.
Tennessee DUI law has several elements for a DUI charge:
- One must be driving or be in physical control of any motor driven vehicle.
- One must be driving on a public road or street or in a place open to the public at large.
- One must have a blood alcohol level of .08 BAC or be under the influence of alcohol or any other intoxicant.
The key question then is: "Is a scooter a motor-driven vehicle?" Tennessee law does not give much guidance on the definition of a motor driven vehicle. From an online review of the Bird and Lime scooters, they are unable to exceed 25 MPH but do have some type of motor to power the scooter. It seems clear these scooters meet the definition of Tennessee law as motor-driven vehicles and are, in fact, subject to Tennessee's DUI laws.
One legal challenge would be to dispute whether the scooter fits the legal definition of the DUI statute. I am not aware of any scooter DUI arrests yet, but I predict an arrest in the future.
If you're riding one of these scooters, the Tennessee DUI laws may apply to you. If you get involved with the police. Please call our offices immediately.