Scooter rental companies – Lime and Bird – are here in downtown Minneapolis. Costs $1 to start plus an additional $0.15 per minute of use. Operators must be at least 18, have a valid driver’s license, and consent to a user agreement to operate a shared scooter, such as Lime or Bird.
Lime and Bird electric motor scooters are fun to ride but can be dangerous if operated irresponsibility. Certainly operating a Lime or Bird under the influence of drugs or alcohol is unwise and dangerous! Electric foot scooters are an efficient way to get around downtown Minneapolis, but if you’ve had a few happy hour beers and take a Lime or Bird home, are you potentially exposing yourself to criminal liability? Can you get a DWI on a Lime or Bird motor foot scooter in Minnesota?
Good question! In order to be convicted of a DWI/DUI in Minnesota, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone was operating or in physical control of a “motor vehicle.” Minnesota DWI/DUI laws define a motor vehicle as follows:
“Every vehicle that is self-propelled and every vehicle that is propelled by electric power obtained from overhead trolley wires. The term includes motorboats in operation and off-road recreational vehicles, but does not include a vehicle moved solely by human power.”
So what does that mean? Your everyday roadway vehicle – trucks, sedans, minivans clearly meet the definition of “motor vehicle” under Minnesota’s DWI laws. Motorcycles, boats and four-wheelers likewise fall within the definition of a motor vehicle under Minnesota criminal DWI statutes. A riding lawn mower, a tractor, or a 50 CC moped? Yes! All meet Minnesota’s DWI/DUI definition of a motor vehicle.
What is not included in definition of “motor vehicle? Any vehicle moved solely by human power, such as a bicycle or pedal pub, does not qualify as a motor vehicle for DWI purposes.
Additionally, Minnesota’s Appellate Court have held that certain “personal mobility device,” such as a Segway, do not meet the definition of a motor vehicle under Minnesota law. Similar to the shared motorized foot scooters, the Segway has a max speed around 12 mph and is intended for individual use only.
However, Minnesota’s Appellate Court also reasoned that a Segway didn’t meet the definition of motor vehicle, in part, because a Segway is designed to go where cars and bicycles cannot go, such as sidewalks and buildings. In this context, a Segway and a motorized foot scooter, are different.
Lime and Bird scooters may not meet the definition of a “motor vehicle” for purposes of a DWI in Minnesota, but a zealous prosecutor could certainly try to argue a battery-powered motor scooter is not self-propelled solely by human power and thus, meets the definition of a motor vehicle under Minnesota’s DWI statutes.
Of course it is advisable to avoid operating a motorized foot scooter if you have been drinking alcohol. You may not be charged with DWI, but intoxicated operation of a Lime or Bird could result in other criminal charges, such as public nuisance, disruption of roadways, or even disorderly conduct.