California Electric Scooter Laws—An Overview

Fundamental Laws Governing Electric Scooters

California Electric Scooter Laws—An OverviewAs the use of electric scooters continues to explode, both in California and nationwide, more andmore legislatures are taking a close look at their impact, enacting regulations to protect riders, other drivers, and pedestrians. In this blog, we look as some of the basic laws governing the operation of an electric scooter in California.

  • Under the law, electric scooters are motorized vehicles—Except where there are specific laws governing electric scooters, the law governing other motor vehicles applies. For example, you can be charged with drinking and driving if you operate an electric scooter while intoxicated.
  • You must walk an electric scooter through a left-hand turn—A controversial new provision in the California Vehicle Code requires electric scooter operators to get off their bikes on the right-hand side of the road when approaching a left-hand turn and then walk the bike through the turn.
  • The use of bike lanes—The California Vehicle Code requires electric scooter operators to use dedicated bike lanes whenever possible. Some exceptions apply:
    • When making a left-hand turn
    • When avoiding hazards in the bike lane
    • When passing another vehicle or a pedestrian
    • When turning right
  • Prohibited activities—You may not have another passenger on an electric scooter. You may not operate an electric scooter without a valid driver’s license. You may not drive an electric scooter on a sidewalk.
  • Minors must wear helmets—Anyone under the age of 18 may drive an electric scooter only while wearing a helmet. The requirement does not apply to adults.
  • The speed limit for electric scooters is 15 miles per hour—The fines for exceeding the speed limit start at $250.

Contact Our Offices

At the law offices of Weber & Nierenberg, we have aggressively fought for the rights of injury victims in California for more the three decades. To schedule a complimentary initial consultation, contact us by e-mail or call 1-866-288-6010.

Sacramento Reopens to E-Scooters

City Allows Electric Scooters Back on Roads After Pandemic-Related Suspension

When You're in a Motorcycle Accident Caused by a Road HazardIn April, responding to the explosion of COVID-19 cases in California and across the nation, the city of Sacramento temporarily suspended all permits allowing e-scooters and bicycles to operate on city streets. Officials say the measure was almost unnecessary, as most e-scooter companies had already removed their vehicles from the roads, expressing concerns about public health and potential liability.

On June 22, as the state of California sought to re-open, Sacramento let e-scooter companies resume operations on city streets. E-scooter company Spin has since delivered 250 of its vehicles to the city. The city is requiring, however, that all e-scooter companies employ rigorous procedures to minimize the risk of contamination by the coronavirus. Spin representatives say they are taking the following actions:

  • Every scooter is sanitized and disinfected twice daily.
  • All scooter maintenance workers are required to wear personal protective equipment, including a mask, gloves, and safety glasses.
  • All personnel who have direct interaction with the public must also wear personal protective equipment when doing so.

Public health officials say scooters and bicycles are one of the safest ways to travel during the pandemic, as they are out in the open and don’t put commuters at risk of proximity or exposure to drivers, passengers, or other commuters. They do recommend, however, that anyone choosing to travel by e-scooter or bicycle carry hand sanitizer and carefully wipe down all surfaces of the scooter before getting on the vehicle. Spin is asking all customers to wash their hands before and after using one of the e-scooters, to wear appropriate face coverings, and to follow local government guidelines.

Contact Our Offices

At Weber & Nierenberg, we have provided comprehensive legal counsel to injured people throughout California for more than 30 years, including victims of motorcycle accidents. Send us an e-mail or call 1-866-288-6010 to schedule a free initial consultation.

Statistics Show Increase in Scooter Injuries

Many Mishaps Tied to Use of Alcohol or Drugs

Statistics Show Increase in Scooter InjuriesData gathered from three Southern California trauma centers indicates that, as electric scooters have escalated in popularity over the past couple years, so have the number of injuries sustained by operators and riders. In a study published in the journal Trauma Surgery and Acute Care Open, researchers found that most of the victims were male and that more than half tested positive for blood alcohol or other controlled substances, including THC and methamphetamines. Officials say 79% of the victims in the study were tested for blood alcohol, with 48% showing a blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than .08 percent, the legal limit in most states. Approximately 60 percent of the injured scooter users were tested for drugs, with 52% found to have controlled substances in their bloodstream.

The most common types of injuries suffered were broken bones and head trauma. Of those victims included in the study, 98% were not wearing helmets at the time of the crash. The average hospital stay for the scooter injury victims was three days and about one in three required some type of surgical procedure. Though no one died, eight patients spent time in intensive care and six required long-term acute care.

Police and prosecutors in some California cities have started applying the DWI/DUI laws to electric scooter operators. As early as September, 2018, a man in Los Angeles was convicted for driving a scooter while under the influence. The 28-year-old man apparently knocked down a pedestrian while drunk and fled to a nearby apartment building without giving aid. When officers arrested him, the defendant had a blood alcohol content more than three times the legal limit. He was convicted of a misdemeanor.

Contact Weber & Nierenberg

At the law offices of Weber & Nierenberg, we have aggressively protected the rights of injured people in California for more than 30 years, including people who have been hurt in motorcycle and scooter accidents. To set up a free initial consultation, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 1-866-288-6010.

Los Angeles Police See Dramatic Increase in Scooter Citations

Number of Tickets Up Nearly 2000%

Los Angeles Police See Dramatic Increase in Scooter CitationsMotorized scooters have become a part of life across California, and police officers in most cities, including Los Angeles, are taking a more aggressive approach to protect the safety of citizens. L.A. officials say that, during the first six months of 2019, officers have issued more than 800 citations to scooter operators, ticketing them for more than 900 different infractions. Officers wrote 249 tickets in June alone, compared to just 13 during the same time period last year. In fact, more than 500 tickets have been given since May 1, 2019.

City officials note that about two of every three citations were for illegally operating a scooter on a sidewalk. Paul Koretz, a Los Angeles city councilman, acknowledged that the city government has been concerned about the safety of citizens. He called riding on sidewalks “the most dangerous violation” committed by scooter operators and said, “If you are riding a scooter on a sidewalk, you will get a ticket.”

According to California law, scooter operators may not be on sidewalks under any circumstances. They may ride in the street if the speed limit is 25 miles per hour or slower, and can always use the bicycle lanes.

The city cited data collected by the Los Angeles Fire Department showing that, in accidents involving scooter riders, the scooter operator was at fault more than half of the time. The LAFD has reported more than 160 accidents thus far in 2019 involving electric scooters, including approximately 60 incidents where at least one person was taken to the hospital.

If you are cited for riding on the sidewalk, you can expect to fine of $197, in addition to court costs and other processing fees.

Officials say the major scooter companies, such as Bird and Lime, have put stickers on all their vehicles advising riders not to ride on sidewalks, but the measure has done little to change actual practices.

Contact the Experienced Attorneys at Weber & Nierenberg

At Weber & Nierenberg, we bring more than three decades of experience to injured people in California, including persons hurt in scooter or motorcycle accidents. We’ll learn what happened to you, as well as your needs and concerns, so that we can take the right steps to get the solution you need. Contact our office online or call our office at 1-866-288-6010 for a free initial consultation.

Electric Moped Usage Expected to Increase

Rental Programs Being Expanded Nationwide

Electric Moped Usage Expected to IncreaseIt may seem like electric scooters have taken over many American cities—companies such as Bird and Lime have seen phenomenal growth over the past few years. There’s another wave coming, though, say industry watchers and experts, as electric moped rental programs are becoming more available and more popular across the country. From Washington, D.C. to Atlanta, from San Francisco to Pittsburgh, it’s becoming easier and easier to rent, ride and drop off an electric moped. Users say they are often comparable to public transportation and typically cheaper than ride-share options such as Lyft and Uber.

The Difference between a Scooter and a Moped

One of the fundamental differences between a scooter and a moped involves the function of the motor. On a scooter, the motor is intended to provide all locomotion, whereas a moped acts more like a hybrid between a bicycle and a motorcycle. With a moped, the rider can still pedal and the motor augments pedaling. The laws governing (and even defining) electric mopeds vary from state to state. In California, for example, scooters and motorized bicycles don’t require a motorcycle-specific operating license and can be driven without being registered with the DMV. A moped, conversely, requires a specific motorcycle license (M1 or M2) and must be registered.

Thus far, electric moped sharing programs have not involved as much controversy as electric scooters. Advocates say that while scooters tend to be left just about anywhere, the mopeds typically must be left in designated motorcycle spots or street parking.

Contact the Proven Personal Injury Attorneys at Weber & Nierenberg

At the law offices of Weber & Nierenberg, we have helped injured people in California for over three decades, including people who have suffered needless injury in motorcycle and scooter mishaps. To set up a free initial consultation, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 1-866-288-6010.

San Diego Pair “Impounding” Abandoned Scooters

Scooter Companies File Suit Alleging Unlawful Taking

San Diego Pair Two San Diego men have formed a fledgling business on the heels of the current scooter craze. John Heinkel and Dan Borelli have formed a company called ScootScoop, which patrols the city streets in San Diego and other Southern California cities, using a flatbed truck to “impound” and tow away electric scooters they allege have been abandoned near hotels or on private property. According to Heinkel and Borelli, in a little over a year in business, they have “impounded” nearly 13,000 vehicles, writing a parking ticket for every scooter they seize. The men say they have offered to return the vehicles to the manufacturers—most of the impounded vehicles are from Bird and Lime, the top two players on the industry. Thus far, however, the scooter companies have declined to pay the return fee of $50 per vehicle.

Instead, Bird and Lime have filed a lawsuit in state court in California, alleging that ScootScoop has illegally taken the vehicles, calling the return fee a “ransom.” The companies claim that ScootScoop has frequently seized scooter that were “responsibly parked,” calling the business “a property theft scheme to generate income.” ScootScoop counters that California law allows for the impoundment of vehicles improperly parked on private property. Heinkel and Borelli say that, if the companies continue to refuse to pay the return fee, the scooters will be sold at a public auction.

Under a new law enacted earlier this year, San Diego now requires that electric scooters in the downtown area be parked only in certain areas designated as “corrals.” The owners of ScootScoop insist that they only impound scooters that have been parked in violation of state and city laws.

Contact Weber & Nierenberg for Experienced Motorcycle Accident Representation

At Weber & Nierenberg, we have more than 30 years of experience helping injured people in California, including victims of scooter or motorcycle accidents. We’ll listen carefully to learn the details of your accident, as well as your needs and concerns, so that we can tailor our representation to get the outcome you want. Contact our office online or call our office at 1-866-288-6010 for a free initial consultation.

Santa Monica Beefs Up Efforts to Improve Scooter Safety

Police Officers Increase Attention to Traffic Violations

An e scooter

Because of concerns about the mounting numbers of accidents involving electric scooters, the Santa Monica police department has taken steps to enhance monitoring of e-scooters. The programs targets drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians and e-scooter riders. The increased surveillance of e-scooter operators began on Friday, May 10, 2019.

According to officials from the SMPD, law enforcement officers targeted e-scooter operators between 6 pm and 8 pm that night, citing riders for a range of traffic violations, including excessive speed, failure to yield to the right of way of pedestrians, failure to stop at a red light or stop sign, and making illegal turns. Officers were also instructed to ticket e-scooter operators who were driving on the wrong side of the road or on the sidewalk. Officials say e-scooter riders are required to travel in designated bike lanes and must obey all traffic laws, signs and signals.

A recent study in Southern California found that, over a twelve-month-period starting in September, 2017, 249 people made emergency room visits to two Los Angeles hospitals because of injuries sustained while riding an e-scooter. The majority of victims were scooter operators who fell while on the bike (more than 90%). Less than 5% of the victims reported wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. The range of injuries included broken bones, lacerations, contusions and dislocations. Two victims ended up in the intensive care unit.

Contact the Experienced Attorneys at Weber & Nierenberg

At Weber & Nierenberg, we bring more than 35 years of experience to injured people in California, including individuals injured in scooter or motorcycle accidents. We’ll listen carefully to learn the specific details of your accident, as well as your needs and concerns, so that we can take the right steps to get the results you seek. Contact us by e-mail or call our office at 1-866-288-6010 for a free initial consultation.

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