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Scooters and mopeds have long since lost their social stigma. Now they seem to be the vehicle du jour on college campuses nationwide. Also, as cheap and relatively easy-to-ride vehicles, motorized scooters are often the go-to beach vacation rental ride of choice. And if there's one trait that these two groups share, it is a propensity to imbibe alcoholic beverages.
While scooters and mopeds might not seem like "real cars," you'd better believe that the DUI you can get while riding one is very real.
First, let's dispel a few DUI myths. You may have heard that you can't get a DUI on a certain vehicle or transportation device. But you can get a DUI in a motorized wheelchair, you can get a DUI on a bicycle, you can get a DUI on your riding lawnmower, and you can even get a DUI on a horse. (You can maybe get a DUI on a Segway, but maybe not in Minnesota.)
The moral of this story is that state DUI laws don't only apply to cars and trucks. For example, under Florida's DUI statute, you can be convicted of driving under the influence if you are "driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle," and vehicles are defined as "[e]very device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway." So your scooter or mopeds certainly falls under that definition.
The only time a scooter might help with a DUI is after the fact, and then it may only be in certain states. Some enterprising scooter salesmen in Florida noticed that under state law, you don't need a driver's license to operate an "electric helper motor" bicycle. While it may look like a scooter, this is a bike that can be powered by pedals along with an electric motor and are generally capped at 20 miles per hour. Sunset Scooters started marketing them as "DUI Scooters" as a means of transportation for people whose licenses had been suspended because of a DUI.
Keep in mind, however, that the license loophole may not exist in your state and just about every vehicle that can be driven on a highway requires a license to drive it. So before you tell a judge that you can't get a DUI on a scooter or you tell an officer you're allowed to drive the scooter without a license, make sure you talk to a good DUI lawyer first.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.