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    Electric scooters are great for relatively short commutes. Unfortunately the road rules mean that they are currently illegal in New South Wales.

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      Electric scooter laws in NSW

      Posted By , on July 30, 2019

      Electric scooters are gaining popularity in Australia. Advances in technology mean that they are now capable of longer ranges, increased speeds, and shorter charging times. Specialist scooter stores such as Scooter Hut stock a wide range of scooters ranging from a few hundred dollars up to $4000. They are quiet, lightweight, environmentally friendly, and can be folded up at the end of a commute without taking up a parking space. Unfortunately for riders in NSW, it is illegal to ride an electric scooter anywhere other than on private property. Riders risk being fined, charged, and even having their scooter confiscated by Police.

      Electric scooters and the law in NSW

      In New South Wales the Road Transport Act defines a “vehicle” as being any description of vehicle on wheels. It goes on to define a “motor vehicle” as being “a vehicle that is built to be propelled by a motor that forms part of the vehicle” and a motorcycle as being a “motor vehicle with two wheels”. While there are exceptions for some power assisted / motorised bicycles these exceptions do not apply to scooters. This is because a motorised bicycle uses a motor to assist the rider. Electric scooters do not have pedals and are therefore legally defined as a motorcycle.

      Where can electric scooters be ridden?

      In New South Wales it is illegal to ride an electric scooter on any road or any road related area. A road related area includes areas such as foot paths, cycle paths, and even public car parks. Unfortunately, until these laws are changed the only place you can legally ride in NSW is on private property.

      Penalties for using an electric scooter in NSW

      Because electric scooters are legally classified as a motorcycle, riders must wear an approved motorcycle helmet, hold a valid motorcycle licence, and obey the same road rules as motorcycle riders. The main issue is that an electric scooter is a registrable motor vehicle however as they do not meet the Australian Design Standards they are ineligible for registration. This means that riders can be fined or charged with riding an unregistered vehicle, an uninsured vehicle, and a vehicle on which registration tax has not been paid. Police can even seize your electric scooter and apply for it to be forfeited to the Crown. You can also be fined for not having the correct type of licence or charged if your licence has been suspended or disqualified. Below is a list of common offences applicable maximum penalties.

      Offence Penalty Notice Max Court Penalty
      Using an unregistered
      vehicle
      $686$2200
      Using an uninsured
      vehicle
      $686$5500
      Using a vehicle with tax
      not paid
      $686$1100
      Not wearing an approved helmet$344$2200
      Drive unlicensed
      (No class R)
      $572$2200
      Drive while suspended
      (1st offence)
      No penalty notice option$3300
      Disqualification 3 to 6 months
      Imprisonment up to 6 months
      Drive while disqualified
      (1st offence)
      No penalty notice option$3300
      Disqualification 3 to 6 months
      Imprisonment up to 6 months

      Will electric scooters ever be legal in NSW?

      Electric scooters are legal in many countries around the world. They have been recognised as a cheap and efficient means of transportation. In New Zealand they have adopted an approach which allows almost any battery powered vehicles to be ridden provided they fit the definition of being a low powered vehicle. In Brisbane the law was amended to allow of trial of electric scooters. These were used on a ride share basis and operated by Lime Scooters. Scooters can be rented through a phone app and riders are charged a small amount per minute.

      Ride share electric scooters in a dock

      The same company has been lobbying for a further trial of electric scooters in Newcastle. If the trials are successful they will probably be made legal in NSW. However, until this occurs riding an electric scooter anywhere other than private property in NSW places you at risk of being prosecuted.

      If you’ve been stopped by Police riding an electric scooter in NSW give one of our traffic lawyers a call for advice and a free case assessment.

      Are electric scooters legal in NSW?

      It is illegal to ride or use an electric scooter on a road or road related area in NSW. It is legal to sell or buy an electric scooter in NSW however they can only be used on private property.

      I didn’t know riding an electric scooter was illegal – is that a defence?

      Not knowing the law is not a defence. If you elect to have the matter heard at court the maximum penalties you face are significantly increased.

      When is the law regarding electric scooters in NSW going to change?

      There is considerable support for a change to allow electric scooters in NSW. Trials have been conducted in Queensland and are proposed in Newcastle. However the law is not expected to change anytime soon.

      Why are electric bikes legal but not electric scooters?

      Electric bikes have pedals as their primary means of propulsion and are only ‘assisted’ by a motor. Scooters do not have pedal or any other primary means of propulsion nor are the exempt from the law. They are therefore legally classed as a motorcycle.

      Why are electric scooters illegal in NSW?

      Electric scooters currently fall into the category of being a registerable vehicle. However, as they don’t meet the Australian Design Standards they are ineligible for registration.

      Where can you legally ride an electric scooter in NSW?

      You can only legally ride an electric scooter in NSW on private property. It is illegal to ride them on a road or road related area. Road related areas include carparks and parks.

      Do you need a licence to ride an electric scooter in NSW?

      An electric scooter is legally classed as a motorcycle so in NSW you can be fined for riding unlicensed if you do not hold a class R licence. Even with the correct licence it is still illegal to ride an electric scooter in NSW on a road or road related area.

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