E scooter laws UK: Can I be fined for riding e scooters, are they legal and will law change?
There are e scooters you can legally ride in Bristol, but unless you rent one through the ongoing trial, it is illegal to ride an e scooter in public. The law around e scooters is confusing and is set to change under plans announced in the Queen's Speech.
But for now, riding a privately owned electric powered scooter is illegal on UK roads. The only way to legally ride an e scooter is to rent one of the vehicles available through an ongoing Government trial.
In Bristol and Bath, it's the Voi scooters which are legal to hire and ride. The vehicles have been in Bristol since 2020 as part of the legal trial around the country. Bristol's service was expanded earlier this year.
Is it illegal to ride an e scooter in the UK?
Unless you have rented an e scooter through the Government trial, then it is illegal to ride an e scooter in public in Britain. In Bristol and Bath these are the Voi scooter you may have seen being used while out and about.
"The rules for private e-scooters have not changed," says the Department for Transport, which classes e scooters as "powered transporters". This means the same laws that apply to cars apply for e scooters too.
"It is against the law to use a privately owned e-scooter." It adds: "Any person who uses a powered transporter on a public road or other prohibited space in breach of the law is committing a criminal offence and can be prosecuted."
As e scooters are "powered transporters", they need to be insured to be legal. Because there is no way of insuring a private e scooter at the moment, it is illegal to ride one on the road. Scooters hired through the Government trial are insured, but you must have at least a Provisional Driving Licence to ride one.
It is illegal to ride any e scooter on a pedestrian pavement, even if it is one you have rented through the legal trial. You can be fined if you are caught, and worse if you hurt somebody.
Is it illegal to buy or sell an e scooter?
No, it is perfectly legal to buy and sell e scooters. But they can not be taken out in public.
Where can I ride my own private e scooter?
The only places you can ride a privately owned e scooter are all on private land. You could ride it in your garden, but not on the roads.
Can I be fined for riding an e scooter?
Yes. Riders of any e scooter, illegal or legal, can be fined. If you are caught riding on a privately owned e scooter on public roads you could be prosecuted under the Road Traffic Act. Offences include driving without insurance and a licence. Fines, points on licences and even prison sentences are possible.
You could also be prosecuted for crimes like dangerous driving and drink driving, even if you legally hired an e scooter. A Taunton man was disqualified from driving for 20 months and forced to pay £380 after pleading guilty to drink-driving an electric scooter.
In Bristol, another man received six penalty points, as well as fines and costs totalling £1,058, for riding a privately owned e scooter in a park. He was found guilty of driving a mechanically propelled vehicle without insurance.
Avon and Somerset Police says: "If you don’t hold a provisional or full licence and are stopped riding an e-scooter, you could be prosecuted for driving other than in accordance than with a licence, as well as having no insurance. Penalty points can still be issued where a licence isn’t held. These points would take effect when you apply for a driving licence. Trial e-scooter schemes are only open to UK driving licence holders."
An FOI submitted to the force shows that most of the e scooter reports police dealt with in 2021 were in relation to privately owned vehicles.
Will the e scooter law change?
It could change. That's why there is a Government trial at the moment, which includes the Bristol Voi scooters. They are also available to rent in cities like Newcastle and Liverpool. Depending on how the trial goes, the law could change to allow people to use privately owned e scooters on roads.
It looks hopeful for e scooters, as plans to legalise them were included in the Queen's Speech. Bristol's e scooter operator Voi welcomes the move.
Jack Samler, General Manager at Voi UK and Ireland, said: “We welcome the plan to create a new independent vehicle category and legalise e scooters in the UK. This will allow more people to adopt this affordable and sustainable transport model, reducing congestion and pollution in our cities and towns. “Over 12 million rides were taken on Voi e scooters and e bikes since the launch of the trials and 39% modal shift from cars to e scooters, representing an estimated 4.5 million short car trips replaced.
"Shared e scooter schemes, such as Voi’s, have successfully demonstrated that they can be safely integrated with other forms of public transport, bicycles and walking to give people carbon-free transport options. “As the UK’s leading scooter operator, we look forward to working with our city partners and the government to support the upcoming legislation as it passes through Parliament.”
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