Even in the winter months, Bird and Lime scooters’ popularity continues. The scooters seem to be less of a nuisance, now that laws and citizens in Indianapolis have adapted to them. The scooters have created easy and cheap short distance transportation for users and jobs for others. However, similar to other modes of transportation, these scooters have downfalls. The newness of Bird and Lime scooters has created confusion about standards of riding, new injuries, and potentially new legal issues.
In Indiana, a person is considered to be operating a vehicle while intoxicated if their BAC is .08 percent or higher. IC 9-30-5-1. The law broadly defines vehicle as “a device for transportation by land or air.” IC 9-13-2-196. Bird and Lime scooters presumptively fall under this category of vehicles in which one is subject to OWI laws. In fact, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) recently made their first OWI scooter arrest. IMPD has made clear that Bird and Lime scooters must be operated on the street and in the same fashion as a car, abiding by all traffic laws. In addition to state laws, Bird and Lime scooters require riders to follow traffic laws and prohibit operating scooters while under the influence. Indiana is not the first state to make this type of arrest. A California man was prosecuted and convicted for a scooter DUI. As IMPD continues to strictly enforce laws, more arrests are likely to occur.
In addition to scooter OWIs, rider injuries have increased. The most prevalent injuries have been face and head trauma. While both companies advise wearing a helmet, the number of riders who actually do is extremely low. One Indianapolis rider had a jaw fracture after hitting a pothole on street and falling over the handlebars. These scooters must be driven on the street, which may be scary for some riders, so they choose to ride on the sidewalk. However, drivers pulling onto the street do not anticipate a scooter to fly by on the sidewalk. They can anticipate, like bicycles, a scooter cruising down the bike lane.
Since these scooters are so new, scooter related accidents may lead to new legal issues such as liability, insurance, defective scooters, and damages. If you are involved in a scooter related accident, a personal injury attorney can advise you of your rights and what compensation may be available.