What is the status of electric scooters in UK law? Whereas thousands of electric scooters are used every day in EU cities such as Paris, Berlin, Madrid (where 15,000 e-scooters are available to hire), in the UK the growth of e-scooter popularity in our cities has been hampered by the status of e-scooters in UK Law.
The good news is that times are changing. Pending the outcome of e-scooter trials, we can expect to enjoy legal, widespread electric scooter use in the UK.
In this article we’ll explain the current UK electric scooter law in 2023 and what it means for where and when electric scooters can be legally used.
All information on this page is taken from lordslibrary.parliament.uk, met.police.uk, legislation.gov.uk and gov.uk.
Are electric scooters illegal in the UK?
It is currently illegal in the UK to use a privately owned electric scooter on public roads, pavements or cycle lanes. Electric scooters can only be legally used on private land with the permission of the landowner. You are, however, legally entitled to buy, sell and own an electric scooter.
In UK law, an electric scooter is classified as a “powered transporter”, alongside products such as hoverboards, “go-peds” and powered unicycles.
Why is the use of an electric scooter still banned?
The “powered transporter” classification is the reason that electric scooters cannot be legally used on pavements or cycle lanes. Quite simply, motor vehicles cannot be used on pavements or cycle lanes – and in the eyes of the law an electric scooter is a motor vehicle.
Due to the way in which “powered transporters” are designed and motorised, every product in this classification – including electric scooters – falls within the legal definition of a “motor vehicle” in the UK.
Will electric scooters become legal in 2023?
The Department is currently considering options for electric scooter regulations. It has not yet been decided whether electric scooters will become legal in 2023.
The Department will publish a full set of findings from its evaluation of the electric scooter trials. The last update on this matter was on 22 June 2022. Pending the successful completion of this trial, we can expect electric scooters to be approved for use on roads throughout the UK.
The government has also said that it is currently developing technical standards for the construction of e-scooters.
Once new regulations come into force, the government would then be able to stipulate that all electric scooters sold met certain standards concerning speed, power and lights, among other things.
What are the current vehicle requirements for an electric scooter?
In order to be road legal, an electric scooter would need to meet all of the standards required of motor vehicles by the Road Traffic Act 1988.
These are the same, stringent standards which cars are required to meet. This means that, amongst other requirements, an electric scooter must:
- be roadworthy;
- be registered with DVLA;
- have up to date vehicle tax;
- have a current MOT certificate.
What are the potential consequences of using an e-scooter on the road or pavement?
Riders risk a £300 fine and six points on their driving licence if they choose to ride an electric scooter on a public road, pavement or cycle lane. Other penalties and offences include:
- Riding on a pavement: £50 fine
- Riding without the correct licence: up to £100 fine
- Riding through red lights: £100 fine and possible penalty points
- Using a mobile device while riding: £200 fine and six penalty points
- Driving under influence: you face court imposed fines, a driving ban and possible imprisonment
Remember: any person who uses an privately owned e-scooter on a public road is committing a criminal offence and can therefore be prosecuted. The use of an electric scooter in an antisocial manner in public could lead to the vehicle being seized under section 59 of the Police Reform Act.
What are the rules for rented electric scooters?
In order to avoid being prosecuted, anyone renting an electric scooter on a public road or other public space must follow all applicable traffic laws.
Please note the following rules for using a rental e-scooter:
- To use a shared electric kick scooter, you must have the category Q entitlement on your driving licence. You can use an e-scooter if you have a full or provisional UK licence for categories AM, A, or B that includes entitlement for category Q.
- You do not need additional insurance as the e-scooter rental operator has covered it.
- A trial e-scooter can be used on the road (with the exception of motorways) and in cycle lanes. An e-scooter cannot be used on the pavement.
- Only one person should an electric scooter at a time.
- You are not allowed to tow anything on an e-scooter.
- You are also not allowed to use a mobile phone on an e-scooter.
Where can you legally rent an electric scooter in the UK?
Electric scooters are currently being tested by the government. These areas are the scene of trials:
- Bournemouth and Poole
- Buckinghamshire (Aylesbury, High Wycombe and Princes Risborough)
- Cheshire West and Chester (Chester)
- Copeland (Whitehaven)
- Essex (Basildon, Braintree, Chelmsford and Colchester)
- Gloucestershire (Cheltenham and Gloucester)
- Great Yarmouth
- London (participating boroughs)
- Milton Keynes
- North and West Northamptonshire (Northampton, Kettering, Corby and Wellingborough)
- North Lincolnshire (Scunthorpe)
- Oxfordshire (Oxford)
- Solent (Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton)
- Somerset West (Taunton and Minehead)
- South Somerset (Yeovil)
- Tees Valley (Hartlepool and Middlesbrough)
- West Midlands (Birmingham and Coventry)
- West of England Combined Authority (Bristol and Bath)
The following sources were used to compile this page: