Legal expert explains laws riders of Sunderland's e-scooters need to know

Partner at Ben Hoare Bell LLP, Andrew Freckleton, answers a reader question on the e-scooter scheme in Sunderland.

Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 4:48 pm
Legal concerns over the use of the new e-scooter have been expressed.

Question – I have heard that there is an e-scooter trial in Sunderland. As I live, work and study in the city, I think I would benefit from using the scheme.

I have seen reports recently about people getting into trouble using them and this is something I want to avoid. I have also read online that you need insurance to ride one, is that the case?

Answer – With the introduction of e-scooter trials in many cities, there has been recent consideration by Police and Courts about their use and which laws apply to them. An e-scooter is classed as a motor vehicle as set out in the Road Traffic Act 1988 as it is a “mechanically propelled vehicle which is intended/adapted for use on the roads”. As it is classed as a motor vehicle, it then becomes subject to a number of laws that you would ordinarily associate with driving a car or riding a motorbike.

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Firstly, the e-scooter should be insured. If you were the owner of the scooter you would be required to have an individual policy of insurance. When you hire one, you will agree to certain terms and conditions that will form the criteria for the insurance provided under the hire agreement. Typical terms are being over 18 and holding a provisional or full driver’s licence. Failure to meet these criteria may invalidate any insurance and could give rise to criminal offences or civil liability.

Other offences that have recently been considered by the courts include driving whilst under the influence of alcohol and drugs and failing to provide a specimen of breath for analysis. Again, having been categorised as a motor vehicle, it is an offence to driver or attempt to drive it in a public place whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs; this is exactly the same as if you were driving a car or riding a motorbike. If required by a police officer to provide a specimen of breath, it is an offence to refuse. A conviction for any these offences is likely to result in a disqualification from driving.

There are many other offences that may be committed, and these could relate to the manner of driving such as careless driving, dangerous driving or failing to stop at the scene of an accident. What is clear is that with the increase in the e-scooter schemes, this is a complex and evolving area of Road Traffic Law.

If you do find yourself arrested, charged or summonsed to attend Court, you should contact a solicitor who will be able to give you considered advice tailored to the particular circumstances of your case.

To speak to Ben Hoare Bell LLP please call 0191 565 3112 or email [email protected] Visit for further information.

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