Los Angeles saw a prosecution on Sept. 26 that is the first of its kind in the city, but likely not the last. Nicolas Kauffroath was cited for a DUI when he had a blood-alcohol level over three times the legal limit and knocked over a 64-year-old man on the sidewalk as he operated a Bird electric scooter in West L.A.
As the pedestrian was leaving a theater, Kauffroath knocked him over and caused him to get an abrasion on his knee. Kauffroath did not stop to help the fallen pedestrian and instead continued scooting down the street to an apartment building that was nearby. After the police were called they found Kauffroath, took him into custody, and had him taken to a hospital for a blood draw. That blood draw showed that Kauffroath had a blood alcohol level of .279, approximately three times California’s legal limit.
Kauffroath was charged with one count of hit-and-run and pleaded no contest to operating a motorized scooter while under the influence. The judge ordered him to pay a fine totaling $550 and placed him under three years of probation. Kauffroath must also complete a DUI program and he is forbidden from using scooters while drinking in the future.
Across the United States in 2015, almost 1.1 million drivers were arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. The City of Los Angeles alone prosecutes thousands of DUI cases each year, but this is the first one that involved a motorized scooter. Current California laws prohibit the operation of a motor vehicle while impaired. The laws apply to motorcycles, bicycles, and motorized scooters.
“Drinking while operating a vehicle, a bike — or a scooter — is not only illegal, but can lead to serious injury or worse. This conviction demonstrates our office’s continued effort to enforce our drunk driving laws and make our streets and sidewalks safer,” says Mike Feuer, Los Angeles City Attorney.
Since last year thousands of Bird and Lime scooters have popped up in Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Riders can use apps made by the companies to find nearby scooters and then scan codes on the handlebars to unlock them. These motorized scooters cost just $1 to rent and 15 cents per minute to ride. Before they can hop on and scoot away, customers must confirm that they will not ride while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication.