They may have half the wheels of a car, but that doesn’t mean you should be any less careful while driving one. After their swift takeover of the West Coast this summer, dockless motorized scooters have officially been involved in their first intoxicated driving incident.
The accident took place in Los Angeles in late September. A 28-year-old resident, Nicholas Kauffroath, was charged with operating a motorized scooter while under the influence after speeding through the streets of L.A. on the transport, crashing into a pedestrian, then fleeing the scene of the incident.
Kauffroath, who was also convicted of one count of hit-and-run, is believed to be the first in the nation to receive a drunken scootering charge. For the combined convictions, he’ll receive 36 months of probation and a $550 fine. He’ll also need to pay restitution to the 64-year-old man he knocked over while scooting under the influence. The victim fell and received scrapes on his knees.
The mode of transportation may be new, but the fear of its exploitation by drunken patrons goes nearly as far back as its inception. Bird, one of the preeminent scooter rental companies, made sure to include an item in its rental agreement prohibiting riders from using the scooters while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication, among other substances.
Los Angeles has similar laws against riding a bicycle under the influence, which falls under the area’s DUI rules.
Still, the astronomical rise of the scooters has put an entirely new entity at play in the cities where the transportation has proliferated. The heightened possibilities they bring for DUI incidents is part of the reason some Los Angeles neighborhoods are seriously considering issuing a ban on the dockless rides.
Indeed, the scooters have run into similar problems across the country, including in Boston, where they’ve been under investigation by the state’s Department of Transportation.
With so many statewide entities coming for the Birds, it may only be a matter of time before they go the way of the dodo.