Electric scooters now legal in Milwaukee
Electric scooters are everywhere in Milwaukee. Just take a stroll through the Third Ward and you will see dozens of riders zipping past you. Lime. Bird. Spin. What happens when a user cuts you off, swerves in front of your vehicle, or commits some other senseless act? Surely you’ve read about the guys from Texas who took their scooters on the freeway. As more and more people decide to give give e-scooters a try, questions will rise about what is and isn’t permissible while on an e-scooter.
Criminal defense attorney Benjamin Van Severen explains electric scooter law. If you are charged with any criminal or traffic offense, call us immediately. Hiring top criminal defense representation early in your case could mean the difference between a victory and a loss. Certainly give us a call at (414) 270-0202.
General Rules for Electric Scooters
With the passage of 2019 Wisconsin Act 11 on July 8, 2019, electric scooters were officially added to the Wisconsin statutes. Act 11 added electric scooters to the numerous laws already on the books relating to pedestrians, bicycles, and vehicles.
How does the law treat electric scooters? For starters, many of the rules related to e-scooters are the same as bicycles. For example, riders need to follow the rules of the road. Riders are expected to use hand signals to indicate turns, though they don’t need to do so if both hands are required for the turn. And while electric scooters are motorized, they are exempt from motor vehicle registration requirements.
At the state level, electric scooters can be operated on both sidewalks and roadways. But Milwaukee, for example, expressly prohibits the operation of e-scooters on the sidewalk. And no one may operate an electric scooter on an expressway or freeway (more on that below). There has been some backlash in Milwaukee about people not following the rules. In fact, Mayor Barrett temporarily halted the electric scooter program in early August due to users riding on the sidewalks. And on August 19, Marquette University banned electric scooters from campus. Despite some of these restrictions, it appears however that e-scooters are here to stay.
Electric Scooters on the Freeway?
Talk about a bad idea. At best, it was an innocent mistake. But it could have been far worse for three men from Texas. The three men were caught riding their electric scooters on I-94 as cars sped past them. It is hard to imagine a more dangerous activity. To be clear, it is illegal to operate e-scooters on a freeway or expressway. The penalty range for violating this law is a fine between $30-$300. If you receive a citation from police related to your operation of an electric scooter, we can help you out. Even though electric scooters may be new to the area, our attorneys have extensive experience handling all sorts of citations.
E-scooters and OWI
Let’s say you have a few too many drinks on a Friday night. You certainly don’t want to get in your car and drive home. But what about hopping on an electric scooter? Bad idea! Act 11 modified the definition of a motor vehicle to include electric scooters. Specifically speaking, no law prohibits operating an electric scooter while intoxicated. That means you can’t be charged with drunk driving for operating one while intoxicated. That being said, Act 11 codified specific crimes for reckless or dangerous actions committed while riding an electric scooter.
Should You Risk Riding One?
Setting aside the possible pitfalls from a legal standpoint, the jury is still out on how safe it really is to ride an e-scooter. A recent article explained that it is difficult to track the number of injuries sustained directly from using electric scooters. However, in other locations around the country, riders are making headlines for the wrong reasons. A young man died in Nashville, Tennessee earlier this month after being hit by a car while on a scooter. A mother in Oklahoma is facing charges after her 5-year old son fell from the scooter she was riding. The 5-year old was hit by a car after falling off of the scooter. And the mayor in Atlanta banned riding e-scooters at night after four people were killed in nighttime accidents.
Regardless of whether you decide to ride an electric scooter or stick with more traditional modes of transportation, you need to know the rules regulating electric scooters. Our criminal and traffic defense attorneys have researched the new laws and are here to help you. Give us a call today!