Can you get a DWI on an electric scooter in Texas? 

By Jose Ceja
Managing Attorney

Over the last decade, the market for electric scooters has grown exponentially and is projected to almost triple by 2023. Along with the growth of the market, there has also been a huge increase in electric scooter-related injuries and deaths. Many cities have taken steps to more closely monitor the usage of scooters. But what happens if you are detained on an electric scooter and investigated for DWI? Can you be charged with DWI if they police claim that you operated an electric scooter while intoxicated?

In a DWI – like all criminal cases – the State of Texas must prove every element of the offense. To convict someone of DWI, this means that prosecutors must prove that a person drove a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. For the most part, the elements of a DWI are defined terms with specific definitions. For example, the word “intoxicated” is defined to mean the loss of the “normal use” of a person’s mental or physical faculties or a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. 

As can be imagined, the most contested element in most DWI cases is whether or not the person was intoxicated. But on occasion, a question will arise as to whether a person committed DWI if they were operating something other than a vehicle. Just like “intoxication,” “motor vehicle” is a defined term and the answer to the question of whether you can be charged with DWI on a scooter can be found there. 

Does the Texas definition of “motor vehicle” include an electric scooter?

Under Texas Penal Code §32.34(a)(2) a motor vehicle is a device in, on, or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn on a highway. This definition is broad enough to cover all self-propelled vehicles, including motorcycles, golf carts, go carts and electric scooters. While it is debatable whether you could be charged with DWI on a bicycle, there is little question that you can face a DWI charge if you are arrested for DWI while driving an electric scooter. 

Although theoretically possible, being charged with DWI while operating an electric scooter appears to be very unlikely. We are not aware of anyone ever being charged with a DWI after operating a scooter in the Houston area as police officers focus their DWI investigations on vehicles and it is possible that many officers do not know whether a person on a scooter can be charged with DWI (many officers believe that a motor vehicle has to meet a certain horsepower requirement to be considered a “motor vehicle” for purposes of the DWI statute). 

The safest approach is to always avoid alcohol if you are driving an electric scooter. But if you are charged with DWI on a scooter or otherwise, it is important to hire the right attorney. DWIs are highly technical cases that involve science and specialized police procedure and the right attorney can make all of the difference. If you have been arrested anywhere in the Greater Houston area, contact Ceja Law Firm today for a free consultation. 

About the Author
Jose Ceja is the managing attorney of Ceja Law Firm. He has practiced law since 2007 and has devoted his career to the practice of criminal law. Mr. Ceja began his legal career as a felony drug prosecutor, where he prosecuted drug, gang, and violent offenses. Mr. Ceja has first or second chaired almost 100 trials, including murders, drug cases, DWIs, and assaults. In his career as a defense attorney, he has regularly obtained dismissals, not guilty verdicts, and grand jury “no bills” in a wide variety of cases.