Electric scooter accidents are on the rise in Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs and other cities across Colorado. Their use as last mile transportation helps reduce the number of cars on the road, but e-scooters are not without their own risks. Scooter accidents often result in catastrophic injuries and when alcohol is involved the risk and severity of injury greatly increases. According to medical and transportation studies, drunk riding often results in injuries requiring surgery or worse, fatalities. In our lawyers’ experience, e-scooter crashes often involve serious injuries and complex legal cases. Adding alcohol to the mix makes a dangerous situation worse.
Drunk Riding Electric Scooter Accidents on the Rise
Studies indicate electric scooter accidents are becoming increasingly common in Colorado, but also indicate the alarming fact that drunk riding accidents are on the rise, too. Data from the Denver Police Department and local emergency rooms indicate e-scooter collisions are a daily occurrence in Denver and other large Colorado cities. (Read more about the frequency of electric scooter accidents in Colorado.) Further evidence indicates an increase specifically in drunk riding accidents in Denver, especially involving rideshare scooters like Lime and Bird.
The reason for an increase in DUI/DWI related e-scooter crashes is obvious. These vehicles are part of the last mile transportation in large cities in Colorado. Last mile transportation refers to the way people move short distances between locations and particularly how they reach destinations from bus or train stops, rideshare car drop offs and after parking their car. If you spend time in downtown Denver, Highland, Cap Hill, RiNo, or other popular areas, you’ll find Lime and Bird scooters cast around streets and sidewalks. Patrons coming and going from bars and restaurants are a key demographic for the rideshare scooter market. As a result, a disproportionate number of scooter riders have consumed alcohol. Not every person who drinks will be too intoxicated to safely operate an electric scooter, but it does not take much alcohol to impair stability and reaction time. Both critical to safely riding low power motorized scooters.
Can you get a DUI riding an electric scooter in Colorado?
Yes, you can get a DUI while riding an electric scooter under Colorado law. Driving under the influence in Colorado applies to the operation of any vehicle on a public right of way. That includes roads, sidewalks, bike lanes, hiking or walking trails on public land and public waterways. Denver police have issued DUI and DWI citations for intoxicated scooter riders, especially when the rider causes a collision with another person or causes property damage. The blood alcohol content for DUI and DWI are the same regardless of the mode of transportation. (In addition to driving while intoxicated and driving under the influence, a scooter rider may receive a public intoxication citation.) In addition to the legal risk to a drunk operator, there are serious injury concerns to consider.
Why Drunk Riding E-scooters is Dangerous
Electric scooters are more dangerous than most people think; however, riding them drunk increases the risk of crashing and injuring yourself. E-scooter riders are at a high risk of accidents and injuries due to:
- Riders operating the scooter too fast for road and weather conditions
- Lack of safety equipment, including helmets
- Exposure to direct contact between rider and other vehicles or pedestrians
- Easy loss of control due to road hazards such as rocks, cracks and uneven pavement
- Rider inexperience and failure to follow traffic laws
- Car and other vehicle operators neglecting to observe e-scooters in roads and bike lanes
Scooter riders impaired by alcohol or other intoxicants are at risk of accident injuries due to these factors as well as their own physical condition. Impaired riders are more likely to lose control and fail to regain control when a road or traffic condition causes loss of control. Alcohol intoxication generally affects balance which is crucial to safely ride an electric scooter. (It’s why police roadside sobriety tests involve balance tests.) Intoxicated riders can also lack proper control to stop or slow down to follow traffic signage or avoid a collision. According to one test of intoxicated scooter riders, even low blood alcohol levels resulted in up to a 40% reduction in reaction and control over the vehicle.
The difference between serious injury can sometimes be a second of lost control.
Electric scooter accident injuries
Electric scooter accident injuries are often more serious than accident injuries for passengers and drivers in cars and other enclosed vehicles. Even low speed collisions can result in catastrophic injuries on a scooter because riders are directly hit and in most cases fall to the ground. Common electric scooter accident injuries include:
- Brain injuries and other head injuries
- Facial and dental injuries
- Road rash
- Low back injuries
- Neck injuries
- Joint injuries including knees, shoulders, wrists, elbows and hips
Fractures, head and facial injuries are most common due to impact with the ground as a result of a collision or loss of control over the scooter. According to Denver area emergency departments, they see patients with these injuries on a daily basis due to electric scooter accidents.
Increased risk of injuries due to drunk riding
Intoxicated e-scooter riders experience an increased risk of injury over other scooter operators. Impaired operation makes the risk of injury greater; however, their impairment also makes certain injuries more probable. One detailed study of emergency department records involving electric scooter incidents examined the differences when an intoxicated rider was involved. Their study disclosed:
- 55% of scooter collisions resulting in an emergency room visit occurred on the weekend
- 39% occurred during the hours of 11pm and 7am
- 33% of e-scooter injuries were sustained under the influence of alcohol
- A face or head impact occurred in 58% of riders (1% wore a helmet)
- 84% of intoxicated riders sustained a face or head injury versus 46% for non-intoxicated riders
- 29% of intoxicated operators sustained a traumatic brain injury versus 8% without alcohol impairment
- 71% of intoxicated riders sustained soft tissue injuries to the face versus 28% for non-intoxicated riders
- 24% of intoxicated riders sustained maxillofacial fractures versus 6% for sober riders
- Surgical wound treatment was needed for 42% of riders with intoxicated riders requiring the majority of surgical wound treatment (primarily to the face)
The study of medical records primarily involved self-reported explanations of the collision from patients which indicated a majority of injuries involved collision with a stationary object rather than a moving vehicle or pedestrian. Alcohol is not a necessary factor in a collision with a stationary object; however, it is more likely for a rider in the dark riding in an impaired state.
What to do if you are in an electric scooter accident while impaired
Electric scooter accidents can be complicated situations for a number of reasons. If you are involved in a collision, there are several steps you should take for your safety and well-being:
- Move to a safe place if possible: many scooter accidents occur in or around roadways. If you are able to safely move out of the path of motor vehicles, bikes and pedestrians, you should avoid remaining in a position for a second collision. If you are seriously injured, do not move.
- Call 911: if you or somebody else is seriously injured, you should call 911 for emergency medical care. If you are involved in a collision causing injury or property damage, you have a legal duty to report the crash to the police or completing a DMV report if it involves a motor vehicle or occurred on a roadway.
- Gather evidence: if possible, you should take photos and videos of the scene and your injuries before leaving. If there are witnesses or other parties involved, make sure you obtain their information.
- Exchange information: if somebody else caused your accident injuries, make sure you exchange contact information with them. If you were struck by a motor vehicle, obtain their insurance information. If you caused the collision, provide your details to the other parties. If the collision caused property damage, you must leave your contact information if you cannot find the owner.
- Seek medical attention. If you are injured, seek medical attention immediately. Prompt medical evaluation is important to your health and well-being, especially if you sustained a traumatic brain injury or other catastrophic injury.
- Contact an experienced electric scooter accident lawyer: if another person is responsible for your injuries, you may be able to pursue a claim to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other damages.
Can I recover compensation if I am injured in an alcohol-related scooter accident?
Potentially yes. If you were struck by a negligent and intoxicated rider, you likely have a claim against that driver and other parties. In that case, contact our experienced Denver scooter accident lawyer today to discuss your case.
If you were the intoxicated rider, your legal right to pursue compensation against another party is more complicated. Generally, under Colorado law your right to recover compensation for accident injuries requires another party negligently or intentionally caused your injuries. When your negligence results in an accident, you are generally liable for the injuries and damage caused by your negligence. If you are the negligent party in the crash, you generally cannot pursue the victim of your negligence for harm you sustained. On the other hand, if another person caused your accident injuries, you may have a claim for compensation even if you were intoxicated or impaired.
In circumstances where another party caused the wreck and you were intoxicated, your alcohol-related impairment may be a contributing factor to the accident or your injuries caused by the wreck. You may have a claim against the other negligent party but your right to recover compensation may be affected by your own negligent decision to ride the electric scooter intoxicated. Colorado law follows a modified comparative negligence rule for personal injury claims. Comparative negligence means the compensation you would receive for your damages is reduced to the extent your own negligent acts contributed to your injuries. Colorado modifies the rule to completely eliminate your right to recovery if your negligence is determined to be 50% or more of the cause of harm. Often juries will assign a substantial portion of blame to a plaintiff who operated a vehicle while intoxicated.
If you were injured in an electric scooter accident, contact Front Range Injury Attorneys to discuss your case. Our experienced scooter accident lawyer can evaluate your case and whether you have legal claim for compensation. We offer free consultations from our Denver law office, so you can speak to an attorney confidentially at no cost and at no obligation. Complete the contact form below or contact us by phone at 720.826.4399 for your free consultation.