LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Picking up speed on a Lime Scooter takes a few seconds, something Shawn Blackwell and his fiancee know all too well while trying to take engagement photos.
“People were riding past, we would have to stop and wait until they get done,” says Blackwell.
Blackwell’s surprised to learn Little Rock Police Officers cannot charge an intoxicated scooter rider with Driving While Intoxicated.
“If someone gets drunk and they’re riding those things they can still be dangerous,” says Blackwell.
After a meeting with the City Attorney, LRPD officials sent a memo to officers telling them ‘scooters will be classified, not as a vehicle, but as a device’ and ‘they won’t be considered a vehicle, an impaired person riding a Lime scooter cannot be charged with DWI’.
“You don’t have any feet on the ground, you can easily kind of wobble, you can run into somebody,” says Blackwell.
While police may not be able to charge drunk drivers with DWI, the memo shows officers will charge people with Public Intoxication instead.
Defense Attorney John Collins says the scooter is considered a vehicle under State Law but applauds LRPD for trying to keep people from losing their drivers license.
“When they are trying to take a safer mode of transportation, obviously a scooter is not as dangerous as a 3,500-pound car,” says Collins.
Collins says a car has so much more potential to hurt other people than a scooter.
Lawyers say just because LRPD is not issuing DWI’s to drunk scooter riders, other police agencies could like U-A Little Rock Police or Pulaski County Sheriff’s Deputies.
Other cities like Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Denver, Austin and Bloomington have charged people with drunk driving on a scooter within the last year.
Collins and Blackwell agree taking a ride starts with common sense.
“Get on it responsibly if you’re going to get on it,” says Blackwell.