With the popularity of craft beers exploding in the United States over the last twenty years, breweries have been popping up all across Washington. Right now there are an estimated 414 brewpubs in Washington, which is up from 281 in 2014. And there's another phenomenon coming to Seattle soon--electric scooters.
In May 2019 Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced that a pilot program would be developed over the next few months to introduce electric scooters (or e-scooters) in the city. But what happens if you visit one of Seattle's brewpubs, find that you've had one too many beers, and decide that rather than drive your car home, you'll just rent an e-scooter?
Proponents of e-scooters tout them as being a “green” alternative to driving and say that e-scooters promote bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. The concept is simple: users simply download an app to their smartphone to find an available e-scooter to rent. Once they begin a trip on the e-scooter, the rental fee is deducted for every minute the trip lasts. When the trip is over, users simply scan the e-scooter again to tell the app where the e-scooter was left, which could be anywhere from a parking lot to a sidewalk.
However, e-scooters are not without controversy. At the beginning of the e-scooter craze, companies like Bird and Lime would move into a city, drop off hundreds of e-scooters, and then let cities figure things out themselves. Most traffic regulations in cities were not equipped to handle the onslaught of e-scooters: should they be treated as bicycles or cars, and what laws should or should not apply to e-scooters?
E-Scooters and Accidents
When e-scooters arrived in Dallas, the city saw a huge spike in accidents that mostly occurred between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m., with none of the users wearing a helmet. And 33% of accident victims had also been drinking. Just this week in Albuquerque, New Mexico, an e-scooter rider was charged with aggravated DUI after police arrested her for swerving and going the wrong way down a one-way street. She admitted she had been drinking but didn't think that riding an e-scooter would be a problem, but in Albuquerque, e-scooters are treated just the same as vehicles and therefore subject to the same laws.
Washington DUI Laws and E-Scooters
Washington is one of the few states where you cannot be charged with a DUI if you are riding a bicycle. RCW 46.61.502 states that anyone driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher will be charged with a DUI. If Washington doesn't consider a bicycle to be a motor vehicle then would an e-scooters not be considered a motor vehicle?
DUI Attorney Steve Karimi
While Seattle develops its e-scooter program, expect to see many debates about how it will address things like helmet requirements, traffic laws, and DUIs while riding an e-scooter. If you have been arrested for a DUI, you will need an experienced defense attorney at your side. Steve Karimi is a former prosecutor who now works to defend those accused of DUI. Call 206-621-8777 today for a consultation on your DUI arrest.