St. Joseph Michigan Criminal Defense Blog

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Electric scooter driver properly charged with DUI

Drunk driving laws
Drunk driving law is a complicated and ever evolving field that requires the expertise of a criminal defense lawyer. Although there may be instances when a court appointed public defender may suffice, if a defendant hopes to obtain a fair and impartial hearing for a drunk driving offense there is no sense in placing one’s fate in the hands of someone with little experience in the field. For example, a recent Michigan case, People v. Lyon, contained many elements that only an experienced criminal defense lawyer could reasonably argue as a defense in a court of law.

People v. Lyon concerned a disabled defendant who was arrested for operating his scooter on a public highway while intoxicated and with an open container of alcohol. The defendant argued his scooter does not meet the definition for “motor vehicle” under Michigan Vehicle Code, and that, therefore, he could not be charged for a DUI under current Michigan statutes. Obviously, there are a number of details that a committed criminal defense lawyer would examine.

For instance, as a four-wheeled-scooter that only reaches a top speed of four miles per hour, the defendant’s mode of transportation does not technically meet the qualifications of “motor vehicle.” Instead, the defendant argued, his scooter was legally an “electric personal assistive mobility device” under Michigan law. Because of this, statutes pertaining to drunk driving laws in Michigan might be called into question for this particular case. Specifically, can drunk driving laws in Michigan pertain to a disabled person operating a type of wheelchair, scooter, or other “electric personal assistive mobility device” that is not legally considered a “motor vehicle”?

Further, MCL 257.33 of Michigan’s Motor Vehicle Code states that a “motor vehicle,” among other definitions, “does not include an electric personal assistive mobility device,” thereby possibly exempting it from standard DUI laws. The defendant’s scooter falls under a separate statute, MCL 257.13c, which states that its qualifications as being “a self-balancing non-tandem 2-wheeled device, designed to transport only 1 person at a time.” Additionally, as a device that only reaches a top speed of four miles per hour, the defendant’s scooter may be eligible for consideration as a “low-speed vehicle” under MCL 257.25b. Low-speed vehicles operate under different roadside statutes than standard motor vehicles.

Regardless of how a defendant wishes to pursue a case like this, the main point is that a court appointed public defender will not be sufficient. It is highly unlikely that anybody but a criminal defense lawyer who is aware of the numerous, intricate Motor Vehicle Code statutes will be acquainted with the many available arguments that can be made from them. A public defender will generally be attending to several different cases at once, and covering a wide array of topics with which they are not particularly experienced to try. The severity and gravity of drunk driving charges should not be left to an overworked District Attorney office that is more concerned with clearing the case off of its desk than offering a personal and detail oriented defense. For this, only a private criminal defense lawyer in Michigan will do.

For over 45 years, the Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC has been fighting prosecutors and helping clients across the greater Southwest Michigan area in criminal proceedings. For further information or to schedule an appointment with one of our highly experienced and reputable criminal defense lawyers please contact us at 269.982.1100 or visit

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