The advent of motorized scooters in Bloomington means there’s a new kind of vehicle for drivers to be aware of on the streets — and sidewalks — around town.
Mix in about 40,000 Indiana University students along with their proclivity to party and consume alcohol, and scooters become another mode of transportation that can lead to injury and in some cases, legal trouble.
“Scootering while intoxicated” is not defined under Indiana law, so every jurisdiction can decide how to proceed in such cases.
In Bloomington, anyone who activates and climbs on board one of the hundreds of scooters stationed around Bloomington and is found to be intoxicated can be charged with public intoxication. If someone crashes and hurts his or herself, the crime is bumped up to public intoxication with endangerment.
Driving while intoxicated on a scooter will be charged only if the scooter rider injures someone else, according to Monroe County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Bob Miller. “The policy reflects both the legal requirement of endangerment to prove driving under the influence and our desire to promote alternatives to driving a car,” he explained.
Not pursuing a driving while intoxicated charge where scooters are the vehicle does not mean the offender is getting a break, Miller said. A first-time driving while intoxicated offense is a Class C misdemeanor, which carries a possible penalty of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Public intoxication with endangerment is a more serious Class A misdemeanor, with penalties of up to a year in jail and $5,000 fine.