Prosecutors in Los Angeles celebrated an odd milestone this week as they handled the first prosecution of a man who was cited for DUI while riding on an electric scooter while intoxicated and knocking over a pedestrian on a sidewalk.
The City’s Attorney’s office said Thursday that the Los Angeles man identified as Nicolas Kauffroath, 28, had a blood-alcohol level more than three times the legal limit while he was operating a Bird electric scooter when he knocked down a 64-year-old man while riding the electric scooter on the sidewalk in West L.A.
The pedestrian was leaving a theater when he was knocked over by Kauffroath, suffering an abrasion to his knee. Kauffroath didn’t stop to render aid, instead continuing down the street to a nearby apartment building.
When police were called, they eventually found Kauffroath and took him into custody. A blood draw taken at a hospital showed him with a blood alcohol level of .279, three times the legal limit.
Kauffroath pleaded no contest to operating a motorized scooter while under the influence and one count of hit-and-run. He was ordered to pay a fine of $550 and restitution. He was also placed under 36 months of probation and ordered to complete a DUI program. Oh, and can’t use scooters anymore while drinking.
“Drinking while operating a vehicle, a bike — or a scooter — is not only illegal, but can lead to serious injury or worse,” City Attorney Mike Feuer said in a statement. “This conviction demonstrates our office’s continued effort to enforce our drunk driving laws and make our streets and sidewalks safer.”
Prosecutors prosecute plenty of misdemeanor DUI cases every year, but this marks the first time a motorized scooter has been involved a spokesman for the city attorney’s office said. Laws in California against operating a motor vehicle while impaired also apply to other vehicles, including motorcycles, bicycles, and motorized scooters.
Customers must confirm they will not ride the scooters while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medications before renting them using the company’s app.
Thousands of scooters from companies like Lime and Bird, have begun appearing across Los Angeles and other cities in Southern California, causing headaches for local officials on how to regulate the new industry.