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Can I get a DUI on a Scooter? How about a Bicycle?

With the rapid rise in popularity of scooter rentals, like Bird and Lime, in Indianapolis, it is likely that individuals will think to use these rentals for a fast and convenient travel option with leaving a restaurant or bar after drinking. Learn more here.

The scooters themselves are tempting options for individuals who live downtown or want to quickly, and conveniently, get from one restaurant to another. But could an individual be arrested for drunk driving on one of these scooters? Would it matter if they were on the street or the sidewalk? Could a person avoid being arrested if they used a bicycle instead or just pushed the scooter manually with their foot? In a word: no.

Under Indiana law, for the purposes of operating while intoxicated crimes, a vehicle is defined as “a device for transportation by land or air.” See I.C. 9-13-2-196 (this excludes personal assistive mobility devices like electric wheelchairs). This broad classification of vehicles that cannot be operated while intoxicated is in keeping with the government’s policy goals of preventing individuals from operating as many devices as possible when impaired.

As such, the following vehicles are included under this law:

  • Cars
  • Motorcycles
  • ATV’s
  • Snowmobiles
  • Scooters
  • And, yes, even bicycles

But might the location where someone operates their vehicle change this analysis?

Almost a decade ago, the Indiana Supreme Court had cause to take up this issue when deciding whether Indiana’s DUI laws applied to an individual operating an ATV on their private property. See State of Indiana v. Adam Manuwal, 904 N.E.2d 657 (Ind. 2009). In Manuwal, the defendant argued that Indiana’s DUI laws should not apply to him as he was not operating his vehicle on a public roadway. Unpersuaded, the Indiana Supreme Court affirmed previous similar decisions by the Indiana Court of Appeals, holding: “regardless of where the defendant’s driving occurred, whether on public or private property, and even if on the defendant’s own property, the State is authorized to charge him with intoxicated driving offenses….” So, for those out in Indianapolis to drink and have a good time, Indiana’s DUI laws will still apply to any operation of a scooter, like Bird or Lime; even if it’s on a sidewalk.

Contact Keffer Hirschauer LLP today if you have questions or believe that your constitutional, criminal, or civil rights have been violated. We stand ready to provide our clients with trusted representation and accurate information regarding the law and its application to their individual case.

Act now and contact us today at (317) 857-0160.

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