Scooting into hot water- are e-scooters legal?

  1. Home
  2. Professional Matters
  3. Are e-scooters legal
Created on August 05, 2022

Scooting into hot water- are e-scooters legal?

If you have found this blog, you are likely wondering what the law says about electric scooters (e-scooters). They are becoming a more common sight on the roads and there have been many news reports focusing on their safety.

This blog sets out the current law that affects e-scooters and attempts to iron out some of the confusion which surrounds them.

Ownership of e-scooters

In England and Wales, it is not illegal to own or purchase an e-scooter. There has recently been a rise in high-street and online retailers stocking these forms of transport. Their popularity has exploded in the past year- with the cost of living increasing, they offer speedy transport that costs much less than running a car.

Whilst you are able to own or purchase an e-scooter without any problem, their use on public roads or in public places is a grey area and presents difficulties.

E-scooter use in public

Currently, there is no legislation that specifically prevents the use of e-scooters in public.

However, the Road Traffic Act 1988 classifies e-scooters as ‘Powered Transporters’, which means they fall under the same legislation as cars, motorbikes and other road vehicles.

This means that to use an e-scooter on a public road, you must have a full driving license with Category Q, the e-scooter must be insured by at least third-party insurance, be taxed and have a valid MOT certificate. Essentially, this makes using e-scooters on public roads illegal.

However, the DVLA will not tax any e-scooter, nor register them. It is highly unlikely any insurance company will provide motor insurance for these devices. Therefore, riding one on a public road would potentially mean you were committing a number of offences such as:

  1. Driving without a licence – fines and up to 6 Penalty Points
  2. Drink/Drug Driving- maximum of Imprisonment and Driving Disqualifications
  3. Using a mobile phone whilst driving- fines and up to 6 Penalty Points
  4. Driving without insurance- fines and up to 8 Penalty Points/Driving Disqualification

This is not an exhaustive list, there are a number of offences someone could commit by using an e-scooter in a public place.

Furthermore, as e-scooters are currently classified as ‘Powered Transporters’, it is illegal to use them on pavements, in bike lanes or other pedestrian-only areas. Therefore, any use on pavements or other pedestrian areas could result in fixed penalty notices being issued, if caught.

Therefore, their current categorization means there is no public place that e-scooters can be used (except in trial areas) and you could risk the e-scooter being seized under s.165 Road Traffic Act 1988 if you are caught driving without insurance.

Trial areas

The government is keen to address the use of e-scooters and the legislation that surrounds them.

Across the UK, there are a number of areas in which the use of e-scooters in public places is allowed. These trials are for rental e-scooters only, which means they can be more closely regulated than via private ownership.

You will still need either a provisional or full driving license with the Q category (therefore, you must be 16 or over) and the rental company will make arrangements for insurance.

Information can be found on the below link on which areas are participating in these trials:

E-scooter trials: guidance for users – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

You should always check with the rental company that you are insured and are legally using the e-scooter in the allowed area.

Despite being in a trial area, you may still commit offences if you do not follow traffic regulations such as stopping at a red light.

Use on private land

E-scooters can be used on private land legally. However, you should ensure you have the landowner’s permission to ride on their land.

You do not need insurance, tax, a licence or an MOT to ride on private land.

Updates to legislation

The government is considering creating a new category of vehicle which will likely include e-scooters. These will be ‘low-speed, zero-emission vehicles’. Whilst some e-scooters have been reported to exceed 30mph, it is likely that their use will be limited to 12.5-15.5mph under upcoming legislation.

It has been touted in government that further offences will be created around e-scooters, other than those that allow their use. These are likely to include an offence for overriding speed limiters, which make the use of e-scooters more dangerous to both users and other persons on the road.

The upcoming Transport Bill was introduced in the Queen’s Speech in the state opening of Parliament in May 2022.

Baroness Vere, a Parliamentary under-secretary for the Department for Transport indicated that ‘new rules are needed to improve safety while unlocking innovation and growth in this emerging multi-billion-pound industry’. It is therefore clear that new legislation surrounding e-scooters is at the forefront of the government’s mind for the upcoming year.

We are likely to see an update to the ‘catch-all’ rules for e-scooters currently akin to cars in the not-too-distant future. Do check back for updates as they develop.

E-Bikes

There has also been a recent rise in e-bike usage, which have begun to present legal challenge.

E-bikes come in all shapes and sizes, from pedal bikes, with electrical assistance, to fully electric powered motorbikes which reach high speeds under only electrical power.

Any bike with the power to exceed 30mph+ under electrical power falls under the categorization of road vehicles subject to rules regarding 30-50mph speeds. This means that an individual must hold a provisional driving license, have a Compulsory Basic Training Certificate, tax and insurance to ride on a public road or place.

For the majority of pedal bikes with electrical assistance, these speeds are not likely to be reached. However, users should be wary of these rules where higher-powered bikes may match or exceed pedal power inputted by the user.

For those using electric bikes akin to motorbikes that are electrically powered, the above law may apply. These bikes tend to be for off-road, dirt bike use with companies such as Sur-Ron being a popular choice of bike. Whilst it is not illegal to own these bikes and use them on private land, users should ensure they keep up to date with the law. For more information, the link below provides the current government position on these bikes:

Electric bikes: licensing, tax and insurance – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Have you been accused of committing a driving or e-scooter offence?

Old Bailey Solicitors has a number of solicitors who possess expertise in driving cases. Perhaps the police are looking to interview you in respect of an offence, or you have received a court summons in the post.

Whatever the case, no matter how big or small, our solicitors will advise you on the law, give you an indication of its applicability to your case and work to achieve the best possible outcome for you.

Whilst e-scooter offences may not be the most serious of criminal offence, a conviction of a driving offence could have devastating impacts on your life. These could include the loss of your driving licence and inability to work or care for your family. Our specialist team will take care to provide you with the best advice possible, looking at the bigger picture rather than focusing on the offence itself.

Please do get in touch if a member of the team can be of any assistance relating to e-scooters or other driving offences.

 

 

We Can Help You Too