The Personal Mobility Devices are becoming prevalent and turning into a significant commuting and recreational use device/vehicles. There is the BYRD electric scooter, LIME, SKIP, etc.

The legal issue is whether these devices are categorized as vehicles subject to the DUI/DWI Statute and enforcement or there is an exception.

The short answer: they are categorized as vehicles subject to DUI/DWI arrest but not a motor vehicle subject to chemical testing submission.

The DC Driving Under the Influence Statute provides that:

No person shall operate or be in physical control of any vehicle in the District

  1. While the person is intoxicated; or
  2. While the person is under the influence of alcohol or any drug or any combination thereof.

However, the Department of Motor (DMV) categorizes the e-scooters and the like in a category referred to as the Personal Mobility Vehicle (PMV).

The exact definition from the DMV is that these motorized propulsion devices are designed to transport one person or a self-balancing, two non-tandem wheeled devices, designed to transport only one person with an electric propulsion system.

However the courts in most jurisdiction have ruled that: if a vehicle, equipped with a motor, is being steered or controlled by an intoxicated person, and the vehicle is in motion, the driver is subject to prosecution even if the engine is not running at that time.

The DC Courts have gone as far as categorizing a bicycle as a vehicle and subject to DUI-DWI regulation (Everton v. DC).

The DC criminal Statute provides a definition for motor vehicle as: all vehicles propelled by internal-combustion engines, electricity, or steam. The term “motor vehicle” shall not include traction engines, road rollers, vehicles propelled only upon rails or tracks, personal mobility devices, as defined by paragraph (16) of this section, or a battery-operated wheelchair when operated by a person with a disability.

Thus the beloved e-scooter ARE subject to DC-DUI and DC DWI as well as Operating while Impaired (OWI) arrests. However, they are not subject to chemical testing after the arrest. That is, these devices are considered a “vehicle” and fall under the definition of vehicle however excluded as “motor vehicles” and thus excluded from the chemical testing[1] requirements after the arrest.

Therefore, if arrested for DUI/DWI or OWI while on e-scooter, the officer cannot ask for chemical test and you should refuse to submit to any form of chemical testing.

The Officer may and probably will administer Standardized Field Sobriety Test to establish some level of alcohol use and evidence supporting the arrest.

Refer to our Washington DC DUI page for more information on this subject.

Contact our DC DUI Lawyer today for a comprehensive case evaluation and analysis.


[1] The chemical testing after arrest provides: when a law enforcement officer has reasonable grounds to believe that a person was operating or in physical control of a motor vehicle within the District while intoxicated or while the person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle is impaired by the consumption of alcohol or a drug or a combination thereof, after arrest of the person, the person shall:
1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, be deemed to have given his or her consent, subject to the provisions of this chapter, to submitting 2 specimens for chemical testing of the person’s blood, breath, or urine, for the purpose of determining alcohol or drug content; and
 (2) Submit 2 specimens for chemical testing of his or her blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining alcohol or drug content when he or she is involved in a collision in the District.
Categories: Criminal Defense.