Is it legal to ride an electric scooter in NSW?
Is it Legal to Ride an Electric Scooter In NSW?
Electric scooters are legal to ride on public roads in Victoria, ACT, the Northern Territory and Tasmania. However, In NSW, they are banned. In addition, any motorised ‘vehicle’ including e-scooters, Segways, e-hoverboards, e-skateboards, and e-unicycle apart from conforming ‘e-bikes’ are illegal to ride in public areas. This includes public roads, foot paths, car parks and parks in NSW.
The availability of electric scooters has increased both online and in retail stores. In addition, their usage has significantly increased in the last few years, especially in parks during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
They are okay to ride recreationally on private property but not in public areas. However, this information is usually not provided to customers. As a result, many people are unaware of the significant financial penalties they may receive when Police stop them. In our experience, the NSW Police and Highway Patrol have increasing enforced laws. This has shocked many people when they are out of pocket, thousands of dollars after paying fines.
Why are they illegal?
The Road Transport Act defines a ‘motor vehicle’ as any vehicle with a motor on it regardless of power (except authorised e-bikes). Electric scooters are also considered a ‘motor bike’ as they are two-wheeled motor vehicles.
Although considered motor vehicles, electric scooters do not meet the Australian Design Rules and can’t be registered or insured. Accordingly, you cannot ride these ‘motor vehicles’ on any ‘road-related areas’.
What are the penalties?
If you are caught in public riding an electric scooter, the fines and penalties range from:-
- Use unregistered vehicle: $704.00 if dealt with by fine, $2200 if dealt with in Court;
- Use insured vehicle: $723.00 if dealt with by fine, $5500 if dealt with in Court;
- Use a vehicle with unpaid tax: from $723.00 if dealt with by fine – $1100.00 if dealt with in Court; and
- Motorbike rider not wearing an approved helmet: $362.00 if dealt with by fine – $2200 if dealt with in Court, 3 demerit points.
Some people may also use electric scooters as an alternative form of transport when they do not have their licence. So riding an electric scooter could also attract more significant charges such as:-
- Use while unlicensed from $603.00 if dealt with by fine – $2200.00 if dealt with in Court
- Drive whilst suspended: $3300.00, 3-6 months disqualification, 6 months imprisonment
- Drive whilst disqualified: $3300.00, 3-6 months disqualification, 6 months imprisonment
What to do if you are charged with riding an electric scooter?
If you receive a penalty notice for the above offences, you have a right to request that Revenue NSW review the case. If Revenue NSW rejects the review, you may elect to have the matter dealt with by the Court.
The above offences are considered ‘strict liability offences. Therefore, you may only defend an offence involving an electric scooter by:
- Proving that you made a ‘reasonable and honest’ mistake;
- Proving that you were not riding a motor vehicle; and
- Proving that you were not riding in a ‘road-related area’.
Although there have been some legitimate cases of ignorance and misrepresentation by successful vendors of using electric scooters. These defences have been much more challenging to argue due to the attention the Police and media have drawn.
These cases are often complex and require thoroughly examining your knowledge and intention. Therefore, it is important that you obtain legal advice from criminal defence lawyers if charged with any of these offences.