Is an electric scooter considered a vehicle?

Written by Reynolds Defense Firm

On August 27, 2018

Can you get a DUII on an electric scooter?

The short answer: Yes.

The long answer:  Yes, and…

The Why

Here’s why… Under Oregon law, an individual commits the offense of DUII if the person drives a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, a controlled substance, cannabis, and/or an inhalant. Oregon defines “vehicle” as “any device in, upon or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a public highway and includes vehicles that are propelled or powered by any means.”

An Electric Scooter is a Vehicle

What does that all mean?  It means that an electric scooter is a “vehicle” and is therefore subject to traffic laws, which includes the DUII laws.  That also happens to include: boats, bikes, tractors, and even riding lawn mowers.  It does not include: pogo sticks, wheelie shoes, or pet llamas.  Although please do not ride those on the road, because they can get messy.

Even though you do not need a license, insurance, or registration to operate an electric scooter, you are operating what Oregon law recognizes as a “vehicle,” and that opens you up not just to DUII, but a whole host of potential traffic violations.  One usually follows the other.

Traffic Violations lead to police contact

For any police officer to stop you, that officer must have a reason – it can’t be “random” or based on a “general suspicion” of wrongdoing.  An officer may stop you if that officer has probable cause to believe you have committed a traffic violation – and electric scooters come with their own set of complicated, scenario-specific rules and regulations.  Here are some of the common ones to look out for, which apply to “motor assisted scooters:”

  1. You must be 16 years of age.
  2. You may not travel at a speed greater than 15 mph.
  3. You may not ride, at all, on a highway with a speed limit of 25 mph or higher unless just crossing or in a designated bike lane.
  4. You generally may not ride on the sidewalk except in limited circumstances, such as leaving an adjacent property, and even then there are further restrictions on speed etc.
  5. If riding on the road, you must ride as close as practicable to the curb or edge, otherwise you must travel at the normal speed of traffic – but again, there are exceptions in limited circumstances.
  6. You must wear a helmet, except when it would violate a religious belief or practice.

Any traffic violation is not just a reason to incur a fine, it’s a reason for a stop and contact with law enforcement.  The majority of DUII investigations start with law enforcement pulling someone over – whether that is for driving without headlights at night, failing to use a turn signal, a tire crossing a line or another common traffic violation.  What starts out as a simple stop to look into an issue with driving can quickly spiral into a full-on DUII investigation.

DUII Investigation

When an officer has contact with someone, even for something as simple as asking why that person was traveling over the speed limit, that gives the officer a chance to observe the person up close and personal.  This is when an officer starts to note things such as an odor of alcohol, slurred speech, droopy or watery eyes, general confusion and other signs that may indicate intoxication.  So in this way, a traffic violation may be the open door through which an officer has a chance to start gathering evidence of DUII.  That makes it important to know how to follow the rules, even the nit-picky ones that we don’t usually think about, when operating any vehicle on the road – or even the sidewalk!

The E-scooters currently in Portland are part of a pilot program run by Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), that is set to run through November 20th.  PBOT will evaluate the program during this trial period to determine if the scooters are here to stay in the Rose City.

If you or someone you care about is facing a DUI arrest, our team might be a good fit for you.  With over 50 years experience from multiple perspectives, we can provide insights across the board from our work as Prosecutors, Defense Attorneys and Judges.  Visit our website to learn more or call (503)223-3422 to speak to our Team about what the next best steps might be for you.


DUI attorney Oregon

Michelle Thomas is one of Reynolds Defense Firm’s talented DUI attorneys. She has a journalism background, a healthy love of craft foods and beverages, and an undeniable passion to help our clients navigate through the court system. As a former prosecutor who handled a heavy DUII case load, Michelle was eager to take her experience as a hard-working trial attorney and integrate it with our firm’s goals. To learn more about Michelle and how she helps our clients in the courtroom and beyond, please visit



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