Electric Scooters (Qld)
Electric scooters became widely available across Australian cities in 2019 when Lime first introduced the scooters for hire. Many commuters now regularly enjoy the convenience of an on-demand mode of transport, particularly in busy cities where driving may not always be an option. However, many people remain confused about the rules surrounding the use of electric scooters.
Legislation and electric scooters
Since their introduction, local and state governments have taken varying approaches in regulating the use of e-scooters. In Queensland, the primary legislative instrument is the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 (the TORUM).
The TORUM provides definitions for both scooters and motorised scooters. However, electronic scooters do not meet either of those definitions.
Schedule 4 of the TORUM defines a scooter as a device that is not capable of going faster than 10 km/h on level ground. As a majority of electric scooters on the road today are capable of travelling at a speed well above 10 km/h, they cannot be classified as scooters. Instead, they fall under the category of a rideable or a personal mobility device.
Personal mobility devices in Queensland must be designed to be ridden by one person only.
Rideables in Queensland must fit the following description:
- They are designed for single-person use only;
- They have a maximum speed of 25km/h;
- They have a maximum weight of 60kg (excluding the weight of the rider);
- They are powered by an electric motor;
- They have one or more wheels;
- They have a braking system;
- They have no sharp protrusions.
What rules apply to riding escooters in Queensland?
Queensland is one of the only states which permits travel at speeds up to 25 km/h using e-scooters. This speed limit is reduced in some areas across the state.
Other rules that apply to the use of e-scooters are:
- The rider must wear a helmet when riding an e-scooter.
- The rider must be above the age of 12. Riders aged 12-16 must be supervised by an adult.
- The rider must give way to pedestrians.
- The rider must not carry passengers.
- The rider must not use a mobile phone whilst riding.
Failure to comply with these rules may result in a rider being fined.
Drinking and riding electric scooters
The TORUM creates a number of offences for operating or being in charge of a motor vehicle whilst under the influence of liquor or above a certain alcohol limit. A majority of these offences relate to the operation of motor vehicles after drinking.
However, as discussed above, electric scooters do not meet the definition of a motor vehicle. This is explicitly stated in the Torum, which states:
‘motor vehicle means a vehicle propelled by a motor that forms part of the vehicle, and—
(a)includes a trailer attached to the vehicle; but
(b)does not include a motorised scooter, a personal mobility device or a power-assisted bicycle’
Other provisions, however, address the operation of other vehicles, animals and ‘other things’ while under the influence of liquor or a drug.
Section 79(7) of the TORUM states:
‘Any person who, while under the influence of liquor or a drug, drives or is in charge of any horse or other animal on a road, or drives or is in charge of any vehicle (other than a motor vehicle) on a road, or attempts to put in motion any vehicle (other than a motor vehicle) on a road, is guilty of an offence.’
This offence applies to being under the influence whilst carrying out a range of different behaviours, such as riding a horse, riding a bicycle or operating an e-scooter. The maximum penalty for an offence under section 79(7) is 40 penalty units or 9 months imprisonment.
Unlike offences relating to the use of a motor vehicle, section 79(7) offence does not carry a mandatory minimum licence disqualification period. However, if convicted, a sentencing magistrate has the discretion to impose a licence disqualification as part of the penalty imposed.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.