Can I ride an electric scooter while drunk?

With rising fuel costs and desire by many to embrace green methods of transport, large numbers of people are thinking about turning to electric scooters. But are they legal to buy and what are the rules around using them and will a UK law change see them become legal? Find out the answers here.

Electric scooter against a wallIs it legal to buy and use electric scooters during lockdown?  (Credit: Pixabay)

Can I be fined and get points for using a mobile phone on an electric scooter?

You might think that using a mobile phone while riding an electric scooter is legally okay - but this is not the case. While scooter riders are not subject to the same rules as car drivers, using a phone while on an electric scooter could still leave the electric scooter rider open to a fine of up to £2,500 depending on the circumstances. 

Transport minister Baroness Vere of Norbition said current Highway Code already bans cyclists and e-scooter riders from using a mobile phone. 

"It is not a specific offence to cycle and use a mobile phone or headphones, but cyclists and e-scooter riders can be prosecuted by the police for careless and dangerous cycling with maximum fines of £1000 and £2500 respectively,” according to Baroness Vere.

Subscribe for free motoring and travel news here - support independent journalism 

* indicates required

Privately owned electric scooters to be made legal in UK law change

The use of electric scooters owned by members of the public are to be legalised as part of the government’s upcoming Transport Bill.

This will reverse the current situation, as outlined below, that is currently how the law stands in the UK.

Speaking in the House of Lords, transport minister Baroness Vere said the Government will move “to create a regulatory framework for smaller, lighter, zero-emission vehicles, sometimes known as e-scooters”.

She continued: “It is our intention that the [Transport] Bill will create a low-speed, zero-emission vehicle category that is independent from the cycle and motor vehicle categories.

“New powers would allow the Government to decide the vehicles that fall into this new category in future and how they should be regulated to make sure that they are safe to use. We hope that e-scooters will be the first of these vehicles.”

Full details of the Transport Bill will be released in the near future and we will update this page accordingly.

What restrictions could be place on e scooters if made legal?

One thing is for sure, the use of e scooters will not simply be made legal without any restrictions. Use of the 'vehicles' is likely to come with restrictions, the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety advised the following:

  • Maximum possible speed of 12.5mph (20km/h) and maximum continuous rated motor power of 250 W
  • Anti-tampering mechanisms should be included in construction. Tampering should be prohibited by law
  • Minimum front wheel size of 12 inches (30.5cm) and minimum rear wheel size of 10 inches (25.5cm)
  • Two independently controlled braking devices, one acting on the front wheel and one acting on the rear wheel
  • Lighting to be mandatory at all times
  • Maximum unladen weight of 20kg
  • An audible warning device to be mandatory
  • Helmet wearing to be mandatory
  • Riding on the footway (pavement) or footpath to be prohibited
  • Rider age limit of at least 16 years
  • Carrying of a passenger to be prohibited
  • Drink driving, dangerous or careless riding, and handheld mobile phone use to be prohibited.
  • In-person rider training and third party insurance are recommended

What are electric scooters currently defined as in law?

Electric scooters are classed as 'powered transporters' - a term that is used to cover many such emerging personal transport devices powered by a motor. 
This is important, because it means 'powered transporters' such as electric scooters fall within the legal definition - as set out in the Road Traffic Act 1988 - of a 'motor vehicle', according to the government. 

Does this mean that electric scooters are classed the same as a car etc?

Yes. Laws that apply to motor vehicles also apply to electric scooters. 
Where can you legally hire a scooter in the UK

Where can you rent an electric scooter?

As of May 2021, electric scooter rental trials were being held in these cities and areas (check local area for new or discontinued trials):

  • Bournemouth and Poole
  • Buckinghamshire (Aylesbury, High Wycombe and Princes Risborough)
  • Cambridge
  • Cheshire West and Chester (Chester)
  • Copeland (Whitehaven)
  • Derby
  • Essex (Basildon, Braintree, Brentwood, Chelmsford and Colchester)
  • Gloucestershire (Cheltenham and Gloucester)
  • Great Yarmouth
  • Kent (Canterbury)
  • Liverpool
  • Milton Keynes
  • Newcastle
  • North and West Northamptonshire (Northampton, Kettering, Corby and Wellingborough)
  • North Devon (Barnstaple)
  • North Lincolnshire (Scunthorpe)
  • Norwich
  • Nottingham
  • Oxfordshire (Oxford)
  • Portsmouth
  • Redditch
  • Rochdale
  • Salford
  • Slough
  • Solent (Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton)
  • Somerset West (Taunton and Minehead)
  • South Somerset (Yeovil)
  • Staffordshire (Stafford and Newcastle-Under-Lyme)
  • Sunderland
  • Tees Valley (Hartlepool and Middlesbrough)
  • West Midlands (Birmingham, Coventry and Sandwell)
  • West of England Combined Authority (Bristol and Bath)
  • York

Is it legal to use the electric scooter on roads in the UK?

In theory, if the electric scooter and driver complied with all regulations then yes... but those would include being officially registered, having working lights and the rider having the correct licence and insurance... to name but a few.
This would be virtually impossible with the huge technical, legal and financial challenges involved.

Is it legal to ride electric scooters on the pavement or cycle lanes?

Section 72, Highway Act 1835  makes illegal to ride scooters on paths and cycle lanes and could end up with a conviction.
You can't use electric scooter on pathways - such as through woodlands walks etc - as mechanically-propelled vehicles are forbidden from using footpaths by section 34 Road Traffic Act 1988.

Is it legal to buy an electric scooter and where can I buy one?

There are no rules against buying electric scooters, but the vendor should make you aware of the rules. 

I read reports saying it was legal to use electric scooters in cities and towns?

Yes, the government is running trials of electric scooters in specific areas across the UK. These trials only apply to electric scooters hired from specific providers and users must adhere to speed limits and other rules. 

What could happen if I am stopped by the police?

Anyone using an electric scooter on public roads or other prohibited spaces, is breaking the law and is committing a criminal offence.

What is the fine for using an electric scooter on the road or other public space?

You could be given a £300 fixed-penalty notice and, if you have one,  get six points put on your driving licence.

Can I drive an electric scooter while drunk?

No - you could face a large fine and disqualification or even imprisonment if you do. The same rules apply to cars and electric scooters.
Using electric scooters while under the influence of drugs could also attract large fines, disqualification and imprisonment.

Am I likely to get fined for using an electric scooter?

On the whole, police do not appear to routinely target people riding electric scooters - typically concentrating on those using them in a reckless manner. 
Following the tragic death of TV presenter Emily Hartridge, who died in a road accident while using an electric scooter, there was a crackdown on illegal electric scooter use in London. One hundred riders were stopped, with most given warnings but ten received fines.

Where is it legal to use a personal electric scooter?

You can use a personal electric scooter on private land if you have the permission of the owner.

Why are electric bikes legal to use on public roads but electric scooters are not?

Laws covering electric scooters do not cover electric bikes, but the government is looking at ways of regulating the use of electric bikes as they become more like motorcycles - or the old-style mopeds.

Are there plans to make electric scooters legal for personal users?

Yes. Lobby groups are pushing to make their use legal as many claim they will help cut congestion and pollutions. 
The London Cycle Campaign (LCC) said: "The arrival of e-scooters offers a cleaner, low carbon alternative to cars and buses for those who can't or don't want to cycle."
"LCC is calling for e-scooters to be legalised and allowed to use cycle tracks rather than be used on pavements."
A recent survey carried out by Halfords revealed nearly 40% said they agreed e-scooters should be legalised for use on areas other than private land.
Disclaimer: Please obtain qualified legal advice around issues involving electric scooters as described on this page. The owner of this site does not condone or promote illegal use of electric scooters purchased legally through the link on this page. 

Is my paper licence still validRelated content on this website. 

Get our latest motoring and travel updates here


* indicates required

See our privacy page here

facebook sharing button Share
twitter sharing button Tweet
pinterest sharing button Pin
email sharing button Email
sms sharing button Share
sharethis sharing button Share


Author: Pete Barden:

Twitter: @pete_barden

Pete Barden is a qualified journalist who has written and produced for publications including The Sun (, New Statesman Media Group, Whatcar? ( Stuff Magazine (, Fastcar Magazine (, Maxim Magazine and UK broadcast stations within the Heart network (Formerly GCAP). Pete specialises in motoring and travel content, along with news and production roles. You can find out more about Pete Barden on LinkedIn.

 About us: Pete Barden Motoring and Travel News

See our privacy page here