You might want to think twice before having a few drinks and hopping on an electric scooter. Everyone knows it’s illegal to drink and drive a car or ride a motorcycle—and in California, the law also applies to bicycles and scooters. Authorities in Los Angeles, Calif., recently issued its first conviction to an individual who rode a scooter under the influence of alcohol.
Nicholas Kauffroath, 28, was convicted of a misdemeanour, city attorney Mike Feuer told the Los Angeles Times. Kauffroath knocked down a pedestrian with his Bird scooter on a West L.A. sidewalk. He did not stop to help the victim but instead scooted off to a nearby apartment building.
After police were called to the scene, they found Kauffroath and tested his blood alcohol level (BAC). They determined that it was 0.279—more than three times the legal limit.
According to officials, Kauffroath pleaded no contest to one count of operating a motorized scooter while under the influence and one count of hit and run. He was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay a $550 fine. In addition, a judge ordered him to pay restitution to the victim and enroll in a three-month DUI program. Kauffroath is also not allowed to ride a scooter while drinking.
“Drinking while operating a vehicle, a bike — or a scooter — is not only illegal but can lead to serious injury or worse,” Feuer said in a statement. “This conviction demonstrates our office’s continued effort to enforce our drunk driving laws and make our streets and sidewalks safer.”
Over the last year, there has been a proliferation of scooters in Los Angeles and Santa Monica. They are cheap and easy to use, costing just $1 to rent and 15 cents per minute to ride (or $9 an hour). Customers find rental locations via an app and unlock them using a scan code. Before they are allowed to rent a scooter, riders must confirm they will not operate them while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medication.
Law enforcement officers in Los Angeles have recently noticed an increase in crashes between scooters, vehicles, and pedestrians, according to the Times. As a result, the Los Angeles Police Department developed a code to specifically track scooter accidents.
Bird Scooters has several safety tips for those who use its products. First, they recommend riding in bike lanes or close to the curb unless it is legal to ride on the sidewalk. They also advise users wear helmets and do not use their scooters without having a valid driver’s license. Other tips include:
- Be aware of surrounding traffic
- Get used to the scooter’s brakes and ability to accelerate
- Use both hands while riding
- Do not listen to headphones
- Do not ride if you’ve been drinking alcohol