The answer is yes. A person can be charged with driving while impaired on a Bird Scooter.
If you’ve been in downtown Raleigh at all in the last few weeks you have surely seen people jetting around on Bird Scooters. These new electric “vehicles” have exploded in popularity and usage here in a very short amount of time. I’ve seen business people conduct meetings on them; I see folks taking them to and from lunch; I’ve even seen some district attorneys use them to hurry back to the courthouse. There is no doubt that these scooters serve some purpose in downtown Raleigh, but prospective riders need to know how the law treats them if the driver has had too much to drink.
North Carolina law defines a vehicle as any device that a person or property can be transported or drawn upon a highway except devices moved by human power or used exclusively on rails or tracks. But bicycles are specifically considered vehicles in the statute. So the definition of vehicle includes bicycles, tractors, lawnmowers, and Bird Scooters. (Horses were removed form the statute a few years ago…)
To be charged with driving while impaired a person has to be operating a vehicle, not just a motorized vehicle, on a public street after consuming alcohol or another impairing substance to a point where they either blow at least a .08 or their mental and/or physical faculties are noticeable altered. As mentioned before, Bird Scooters are considered vehicles, and if someone is operating one on the street after having too much to drink, they are subject to a DWI charge.
The next logical question is how an officer would know to stop an impaired Bird Scooter user. In a car, most impaired drivers are stopped for some traffic violation or license related issue. For police to come into contact with a person using a scooter, there would most likely have been an accident or some scooter use that was affecting other traffic. There has been a lot of news coverage of Bird Scooter accidents around the country, including Raleigh, to the point where a law firm in California has opened a Bird Scooter accident office. http://www.bhfirm.com/bird-scooter-accident-lawyer/
The Bird Corporation has taken steps to reduce the chances of their users being impaired. Under the terms of the user agreement, drivers aren’t supposed to drink alcohol before or during their scooting, and none of their scooters are operable after 8:00 p.m. Even with these precautions in place, there is amble opportunity for people in downtown Raleigh to possibly be charged with DWI on a Bird Scooter. If someone is convicted, the punishment would be the exact same as if they were driving a car. If that person has prior DWI convictions or causes a serious accident, the decision to drink and hop on a Bird Scooter could send them to jail.
If you or anyone you know has any questions about DWI charges, in a car, scooter, or any other vehicle, you may be facing or need a Raleigh DWI lawyer, please don’t hesitate to contact Saad Law. We would be more than happy to provide you with a free consultation about your specific case.