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The Law around E-Scooters

Friday, May 28th, 2021

E-scooters have become a great deal more prevalent in recent months. With trial rental schemes in nearby towns, it is perhaps not surprising that there is confusion over the law on privately-owned scooters. Driving in London recently I was struck by the ubiquity of E-scooters – weaving in and out of traffic, on pavements, and some guy doing wheelies on the pavement.

The policing exercise below is an example of the confusion. Warnings were issued to over 30 e-scooter riders who were committing offences around Slough, but were unaware of the rules. It is fair to say that some of the comments on social media are not entirely sympathetic to the rules or enforcement.

We thought it would be useful, therefore, to publish guidance and links on the law surrounding E-scooters. These are taken from the Thames Valley Police website: Thames Valley Police: E-scooters – what are the rules?

A privately owned e-scooter can only legally be used on private land and with the permission of the land owner.

In legislation, an e-scooter is classed as a powered transporter and are treated as a motor vehicle and so fall under the Road Traffic Act. This means that they are subject to all the same legal requirements as motor vehicles; MOT, tax, licensing, insurance and specific construction regulations.

As e-scooters can’t currently meet these requirements, riding a privately-owned e-scooter on a public road, pavement or other public area is a road traffic offence.

Any person who uses a powered transporter on a public road, pavement or other prohibited space is committing a criminal offence and can be prosecuted. 

Some of the potential offences committed can include driving without a valid licence and driving without insurance.  The penalty for driving without insurance is a fine of £300 and up to 6 points on your driving licence if you have one. Your e-scooter may also be seized under section 165 of the Road Traffic Act for being used without insurance.

If you are using an e-scooter in public in an anti-social manner, you can also risk the e-scooter being seized under section 59 of the Police Reform Act.

Currently, there are government trials taking place in certain areas of the UK where rental e-scooters can be used legally, however riders have to hire the scooter from specific companies who will have provided the relevant motor insurance.

The rental companies will have their own policies for use of their e-scooters but general rules to be aware of are:

  • You must be over 16
  • You must hold a full or provisional driving licence endorsed with category q
  • They can be used on public roads and cycle lanes but not on pavements. For those living in Milton Keynes, rental e-scooters can be used on redways.
  • Only one person can use them at any time and they must not be used to tow anything.
  • Riders are still subject to road traffic legislation around the safe use of vehicles including careless or dangerous driving, using a mobile phone whilst driving and using a vehicle whilst drunk or intoxicated.

It is still illegal to use privately owned scooters in public within the designated trial area.

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