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E-scooter users face $3,200 fine amid crackdown on dangerous use

·8-min read
E-scooter rider on bridge
Recent accidents involving e-scooter riders have forced the state and territory governments to increase their focus on regulated the vehicles. (Source: Getty)

State and territory police forces have issued e-scooter users a timely reminder of fines and regulations following a spate of accidents and even deaths in Australia during the past year.

Most notably in separate incidents were the tragic deaths of a 46-year-old father riding an e-scooter and a 13-year old boy in another e-scooter-related accident in Perth.

As the popularity of e-scooters rises and government-endorsed trials are underway, police are keen to warn riders that fines can quickly spiral upwards if they are not careful and stay within their relevant local laws.

Only recently did Victoria Police issue a statement focusing on private e-scooter use, while the ACT is six months into its campaign to warn of the latest fines for riding an e-scooter while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

In general, police are re-iterating that e-scooters are still motor vehicles for the purposes of alcohol and drug testing and users are not permitted to use a mobile phone while riding.

New bill, new offences, new fines in ACT

Late last year, the ACT government issued new laws to "address a gap in our current drug and alcohol legislation, targeting unsafe drink riding on footpaths, shared paths, verges and other road related spaces," explained Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel.

The Road Transport Legislation Amendment Bill No. 2 introduced a new offence for riding a personal mobility device such as an e-scooter, a bike and other types of vehicles, on road related areas while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, to the extent as to be incapable of having proper control.

The new offence applies a maximum court penalty of 20 penalty units ($160 per unit, $3200 in total). However, it will not carry any imprisonment term or come with automatic licence disqualification requirements.

"This new offence makes it clear that it's not acceptable to have a night of heavy drinking, jump on a scooter and risk your own safety and that of others," said Minister Steel.

The ACT government and Transport Canberra at the time released an advisory video called Night Club as part of its "Don't Drink and Ride" campaign to illustrate the increasing issue of people using e-scooters to get home while drunk.

Private property only: Victoria Police crackdown

Two key takeaways of a recent Victoria Police statement on e-scooter use they'd like riders to be very aware of are that "privately owned e-scooters can only legally be ridden on private property" and "offending whilst riding a privately owned e-Scooter may result in loss of any driver licence or permit held".

E-scooter rider on cycle way
E-scooter riders may not be aware that they must follow similar rules and regulations to other motorists. (Source: Getty)

Other regulations include that if your privately owned e-scooter has an electric motor with a power output of more than 200 Watts, or has a speed capability greater than 10km/h then it does not meet the standards of registration and therefore cannot be used on Victorian roads, footpaths, shared or cycle paths, public parks or any public areas.

Victorian police may enforce laws including unlicensed riding, unregistered motor vehicle, failing to wear a helmet, careless riding and or riding under the influence of alcohol and drugs - as riders must be below 0.05 BAC and have zero presence of prescribed drugs.

Fines for public use of privately owned e-scooters range from $182 - $909, plus a whole stack of other possibly applicable fees.

Latest public trials underway in NSW

NSW private e-scooter use is still illegal on public roads as the state only recently embarked on its 12-month shared e-scooter trials since late July in Western Sydney, bringing it up to speed with the nation.

The trials will limit shared-scheme e-scooters to riders 16 years of age and over, to a maximum of 20km/h on bicycle paths or roads with a speed limit up to 50km/h, and a speed limit of 10km/h for shared paths. E-scooters will not be permitted on footpaths and the use of privately owned e-scooters will remain prohibited.

Police can immediately suspend your licence if you commit a low, special or novice range drink driving offence. A first offence means a $581 fine. A maximum court-imposed fine is $2200 and minimum disqualification period is three months.

The combined offence of high-range PCA (Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol) with prescribed illicit drug presence gets you a maximum court-imposed fine of $5500.

Nationwide focus

The recent NSW e-scooter trial brings it into line with other states and territories, which earlier had allowed some form of public e-scooter use via either government-sanctioned public "shared" trials or limited private owner use on public roads.

As Yahoo Australia has earlier reported, strict speed limits apply for footpath usage. The ACT, Tasmania, South Australia and Northern Territory are the most lenient with a maximum speed of 15km/h.

E-scooter rules in other states and territories

Western Australia

Police look at a range of areas in relation to the enforcement of "e-ridables", which includes:

  • Only one person on the e-rideable at a time;

  • Must be 16 years or above to operate one;

  • Must wear an approved helmet;

  • Can't use a phone when riding;

  • No riding on a carriageway with a media strip or marked centre line or with a designated speed limit of over 50km/h etc.

  • 25km/h maximum speed on approved carriageways, bicycle paths, shared paths;

  • 10km/h maximum speed on footpaths.

  • Can't be intoxicated when riding; BAC levels 0.05 to 0.08 is a $1,000 fine and 3-5 demerit points depending on the level. First offence drink and drug driving penalties (BAC under 0.05 but over 0.07) equate to $1,900 (max) and 3 months disqualification (min).

E-scooter rider on pedestrian crossing
Riding an e-scooter after a few beers at the pub might seem like a safer option than driving a car, but drink-driving rules apply. (Source: Getty)

Northern Territory

If you own an e-scooter:

  • You can only ride it on private property;

  • If you are caught riding an unapproved e-scooter, you may be fined $300 - $1500 for driving an unregistered and uninsured motor vehicle;

  • You can hire e-scooters (speed limited to 15 km/h) and e-bikes in the Darwin area;

  • You must at least be 18 years old to ride and e-scooter and wear an approved bike helmet that is securely fitted;

  • You must not carry passengers or use a mobile phone ($500 fine);

  • You must not have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05 or more;

  • You must not take them on public transport or outside of areas permitted by authorities.

Tasmania

Hobart and Launceston are currently undertaking a 12-month trial of "hire and ride" e-scooter technology.

New rules for personal mobility devices (PMDs including e-scooters) commenced on 1 December 2021 to allow PMDs on footpaths, shared paths, bicycle paths and some roads in Tasmania.

Privately owned PMDs and e-scooter "hire and ride" commercial services will be covered by these rules, with police having the power to temporarily confiscate a PMD.

PMD users:

  • Must not exceed 15km/h on footpaths; 25km/h on shared paths, bicycle paths and roads;

  • Must "ride with due care and consideration for other road users".

South Australia

Four e-scooter trials have been approved in South Australia. The only e-scooters allowed to be used in the trial areas are those operating subject to a business permit issued by the relevant local city council.

You do not need a driver's licence or learner's permit to participate in these trials, however some road rules and laws may impose penalties on a driver's licence or learner's permit including demerit points and licence disqualification.

Rules applying to e-scooter riders:

  • If you are caught riding an e-scooter not approved for this trial you may be fined $1,401 for driving an unregistered and uninsured motor vehicle;

  • It is an offence to ride a privately owned e-scooter or one owned by an operator without a permit;

  • You must not ride abreast ($62 fine) nor carry passengers;

  • You must not have a BAC of 0.05 or more or the presence of illegal drugs in your blood or oral saliva;

  • Maximum e-scooter penalties range up to $2,500 and an additional $92 Victims of Crime Levy can apply.

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