If you are not driving a car or truck, but instead you are riding a scooter, can you face charges for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas? Electric scooters, or e-scooters, have become extremely popular in a number of Texas cities, more people are renting these devices and traveling at lawful speeds of up to 35 miles per hour, although the scooters often have the capacity to travel at even higher speeds. In Houston, there are a variety of electric scooter rental options, and both residents of Houston and visitors to the city alike routinely use e-scooters for transportation. Mopeds also remain forms of transportation in Texas towns and cities, along with other types of motorized vehicles that are often described as scooters.
Our Houston DWI defense attorneys want to make sure you understand that DWIs may be possible when you are using any type of motorized vehicle in Texas, and that you need an attorney on your side if you are facing a drunk driving charge.
Requirements for a DWI Charge According to the Texas Penal Code
In order to face DWI charges under the Texas Penal Code, the prosecutor will need to show that you were intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. Accordingly, there are three elements that must be proven in order for you to be convicted:
- Operating a motor vehicle; and
- In a public place.
E-Scooters May Be Considered Motor Vehicles Under Texas Law
When it comes to e-scooters and DWIs, the first and last elements are proven the same way they would be for a DWI involving the operation of a car, truck, or another type of obvious motor vehicle. The Texas Penal Code defines intoxication to mean either having an alcohol concentration at or above 0.08, or “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body.” A public place can refer to a public road, park, parking lot, or other related areas.
What about a “motor vehicle”? Is an e-scooter considered a motor vehicle under the Texas Penal Code? The Texas Penal Code does not expressly list any specific transportation devices as motor vehicles under the law. Instead, it defines a motor vehicle as “a device in, on, or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn on a highway, except a device used exclusively on stationary rails or tracks.”
While an e-scooter is not designed for highway use, the law does not require a motor vehicle to be designed expressly for highway use or even to be used primarily on a highway. Rather, it makes clear that a transportation device fits the definition of a motor vehicle if it may transport people or property on a highway. According to a recent article from Electric Scooter Insider, even the slowest electric scooters can reach maximum speeds of at least 30 miles per hour, and many scooters reach speeds of more than 45 miles per hour. There are even some electric scooters that can achieve maximum speeds of more than 65 miles per hour, suggesting that e-scooters can indeed transport people or property on highways. As such, you should know that you may face DWI charges for drunk driving on an e-scooter.
Seek Advice from a Galveston DWI Attorney
If you are facing DWI charges, a Gavelston DWI defense lawyer can help. Contact Galveston DWI Lawyer Tad Nelson today for more information.