E-scooters for Christmas, fines in January .


Did you know that e-scooters fall within the definition of a motor vehicle? You would not be alone if you said no.

BSB solicitors commissioned a survey of the general public last year which found that only 25% were aware that it was illegal to ride e-scooters anywhere except for private land.

Due to the growing popularity of e-scooters and general ignorance in respect of the laws governing them, the Metropolitan Police have issued an open letter to retailers to warn purchasers where they are illegal to use.

This is timely advice given that E-scooters are reported as being a top-selling Christmas gift this year as people look to other affordable means of transport to help them practice social distancing.


All privately owned e-scooters are illegal to use in public places and on the road. It should be noted, however, that this does not apply to trials of rented scooters currently taking place on a limited basis in some areas.

We predicted last year that  when demand also shifts, that’s when you know change is coming; in a recent survey nearly 40% said they agreed e-scooters should be legalised for use beyond private land[source]. After a bumper year for e-bike sales in 2019 (between 50,000-60,000 were bought) which are further forecasted to rise in 2020[source], there is no reason to believe why e-scooters wouldn’t follow a similar pattern, if and when the law is changed.

Why and where are they illegal to use?

As a result of the way that they are motorised and designed, the e-scooter falls within the definition of a motor vehicle.

This means that the laws applying to motor vehicles also apply to e-scooters so one cannot be used on a public road without complying with the appropriate legal requirements.

As well as public roads the law applies to spaces set aside for pedestrians including pavements and cycle lanes.

The law also applies to other so-called “powered transporters” such as segways, hoverboards and go-peds. It does not apply to electrically assisted bikes (although these have their own regulations).

What are the legal requirements for use?

In principle, if a user could meet the same requirements as a motor vehicle user, they may be able to use public roads. This would include insurance, licensing, registration, driving licence, use of safety equipment and conformity with technical standards.

It is unlikely, however, that an e-scooter user would be able to conform with all the requirement leaving it illegal to use in these places.

Is it legal to use them anywhere?

It is legal to use an e-scooter on private land if you have the permission of the landowner.

What are the penalties?

There is a range of offences that could be committed, from simple use on the road a penalty could be a fine, penalty points or disqualification. Use, whilst under the influence of drink or drugs, would be more serious and can lead to imprisonment.

Has anyone actually been prosecuted?

There are recorded cases of prosecutions involving segways, go-peds and a “City Bug” electric scooter.

If in any doubt please seek legal advice before use.

How can we help?

If you would like to discuss any aspect of your case, please contact our team of criminal defence lawyers on 0207 8373456 .


[Image credit: fullstoppr/13256567)