Electric Scooter Offences | MAJ Law Solicitors
The law on electric scooters is new and confusing. This page helps to clarify the rules on the use of electric 'e-scooters' on the roads in England and Wales. If you require any further information, please call for free advice on 01514228020.
The law and electric scooters
M.A.J Law Ltd regularly defend traffic offences relating to electric scooters (commonly known as e-scooters). There appears to be a lot of confusion about the rules surrounding e-scooters. The police have recently launched a 'crack down' on the use of e-scooters in towns and city centres. If you currently use an electric scooter on roads in England and Wales you may be committing serious traffic offences without knowing. Some of the most common offences include;
- Driving without insurance
- Drink and drug driving
- Driving without a licence
- Fail to stop
- Dangerous & careless driving
The first thing to know about e-scooters is that they all fall within the statutory definition of a 'motor vehicle'. A motor vehicle is defined as a "any mechanically propelled vehicle intended or adapted for use on roads”. This means that any driving offence that can be committed in a car, can be committed on an electric scooter.
Different rules apply to e-scooters depending upon the ownership of the scooter and any rental agreement. The Government recently began trials in some UK cities to provide e-scooters for rent. If you rent an electric scooter and comply with the terms of the rental, you will not need a separate insurance policy. A driving licence is required (either full or provisional). A provisional licence holder will not need to display L plates.
A rental e-scooter can be ridden on the road and in cycle lanes. It should not be ridden on the pavement or on motorways.
Rental e-scooters must meet for following specifications to be used as part of the Government's trial.
The rental scooter must be;
- fitted with a motor less than 500W and not contain pedals
- designed to carry no more than one person
- limited to 15.5mph or less
- 55kg in total (not include the rider's weight)
Rules for privately owned e-scooters
- You will need insurance. E-scooters must be covered by a valid policy of insurance. If you rent an e-scooter, the rental operator should provide the policy of insurance within the cost of the rental. If you own your e-scooter, you will be responsible for insuring it yourself.
- You will need a valid driving licence. A full UK provisional licence is also accepted. Riders will not need to complete a mandatory training course (such as CBT motorcycle training).
- Vehicle registration and licensing will also apply to privately owned e-scooters used on UK roads, meaning a the e-scooter must be registered with the DVLA, taxed and MOT'd. In addition, the e-scooter must be 'type approved' for road use under the Road Traffic Act 1988
Defences and Special Reasons
Electric Scooters are treated as motor vehicles under the Road Traffic Act. But does this mean that you should receive the same penalty as someone driving a car, van or lorry? In our option, no. When considering whether a defence or special reason applies, it's important to consider the purpose of the legislation (and parliament's intentions) when the legislation was first enacted. The obvious purpose of the Road Traffic Act is to regulate the roads in England & Wales and, of course, for the protection road users. When the Road Traffic Act was first enacted, do you think ministers were thinking about electric scooters? Of course not.
The question for court is whether a person riding an electric scooter presents the same risk as a person driving a motor car. It is obvious to us that they do not. In addition, if the penalty for using an electric scooter is the same as driving a car, why not just drive your car? People use electric scooters as a safer alternative to driving if they've had a drink, or are otherwise unfit to drive. If the penalties are the same, where is the deterrent against using your car?
For these reasons you may have a special reason. A special reason is not a defence because you are required to enter a guilty plea. However, it does give the magistrates discretion not to disqualify you (or impose any penalty) for the offence. In order to run the argument, we have to demonstrate that your culpability (i.e. your blameworthiness) was greatly reduced - and that you presented a lower risk to the public.
M.A.J Law regularly avoid driving disqualifications using special reasons arguments. If you'd like to know more, please call us for free advice on 01514228020.
Are e-scooters illegal in the UK?
E-scooters are illegal in the UK unless used on private property. The only exception are rental e-scooters involved in Government trials.
Are e-scooters allowed on the road?
Yes. Providing the rules set out above are complied with, there is nothing preventing you from using your e-scooter on the road.
E-scooters that are rented by an approved operator can be used on cycle lanes and tracks but cannot be used on motorways.
Caught drink or drug driving on an e-scooter
The Electric Scooter Trials and Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions altered the statutory framework in relation to e-scooters (known as powered transporters). Under these provisions, e-scooters are to be classed as motor vehicles under the Road Traffic Act 1988. This means that the same laws apply to e-scooters as they do cars.
As unfair as it might sound, a person using an e-scooter (whether privately owned or not) could still be charged with drink or drug driving if found to be over the limit.
If convicted, the same penalties apply. This means you could receive a minimum 12 month driving disqualification and a financial penalty. In more serious cases, you could receive community service or even prison.
Take a look at the Magistrates' Court sentencing Guidelines for drink driving.
Caught driving without insurance on an e-scooter
Rental operators of e-scooters are required to provide an insurance policy as part of the rental agreement. The policy will only cover the person who paid to use the e-scooter (using their online account). If you did not take out the policy you may not be insured to drive the vehicle.
A person caught riding a scooter without the necessary insurance policy could receive 6 penalty points and a fine. Take a look at our insurance page for more information.
If you're a new driver, or you don't yet have a licence, you can find more information here.
Do I need a driving licence to drive an electric scooter?
Yes. E-scooters are classed as motor vehicles under the Road Traffic Act 1988. This means that you will need a valid driving licence to use an e-scooter in a public place.
If you rent an e-scooter from an approved city-centre operator, you can use a provisional licence. A privately owned scooter requires a full driving licence.
Can I use my e-scooter on the pavement?
It is an offence to use an e-scooter on the pavement. By section 72, Highway Act 1835, it is an offence to ride on, or to lead or draw a carriage on a pavement. This rule applies almost all vehicles, with special legal exceptions for mobility scooters and wheelchairs. In addition, e-scooters are forbidden from using footpaths. A footpath is a public right of way over land which may only be used on foot. Mechanically-propelled vehicles are forbidden from using footpaths by section 34 Road Trafﬁc Act 1988.
Do I need to wear a helmet when riding an e-scooter
It is, of course, advisable that you wear a helmet when riding an e-scooter, particularly if you're riding it in busy built up areas. However, it is not mandatory to wear a helmet when riding an e-scooter.
Case Law that applies to electric scooters
- Winter v DPP  EWHC 1524 (Admin) - The High Court considered the use of a ‘City Bug’ electric scooter, and whether its user was bound by the compulsory insurance requirements. It found that it was and that the appellant had been properly convicted of the offence of driving a vehicle without insurance.
- Coates v Crown Prosecution Service  EWHC 2032 (Admin) - The High Court considered the situation of Segways in the statutory framework. It found that the appellant had been properly convicted under the Highway Act 1835 of “riding” on the footway, or of “driving or leading a carriage” on the footway. The Segway was a carriage either by analogy to other forms of carriage (like bicycles) or because it was a motor vehicle, which by operation of statute is a carriage.
Useful links and information on electric scooters in the UK