Electric Scooter Laws: What You Should Know

Jimmy SinghJimmy Singh, Principal at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia, outlines the NSW legislation on electric scooters, with a comparison to legislation from other states. He also highlights the difficulty of the law to keep up with technology.


Here’s an outline on what the law says about electric scooters in NSW, and the difficulty the law is having to keep up with technology.

In NSW, SA and WA, it is still illegal to ride an e-scooter other than on private property. On the other hand, it is legal to ride one in Victoria, ACT, NT and Tasmania with certain restrictions, namely, only on some public places and only if it is travelling at a speed of no more than 10km/h with a power of no more than 200 watts.

Notwithstanding the illegality of riding an escooter in NSW, it is legal for retailers to sell them. Due to many retailers being mistaken or unaware of the laws on riding an e-scooter in NSW, many are misleading consumers to mistakenly believe they can be ridden in NSW, other than on private property. There are penalties of up to $10 million for body corporates or $500,000 for individuals for selling consumers products based on misleading or deceptive practices such as this.

E-scooters are illegal to ride on NSW Roads because it’s a classified as a ‘registrable vehicle’ yet doesn’t meet the Australian Design Standards criteria. Accordingly, it can’t be registered or insured.

Any experienced criminal lawyer in Sydney will be able to advise on the law on wheeled recreational devices, including e-scooters in NSW. Although it doesn’t arise too often.

Rule 240(2)(c) of the NSW Road Rules prescribes a $78 fine to anyone in NSW who travels in  or on a wheeled recreational device on a road at any time if it is wholly or partly assisted in being propelled by means other than human power. This includes an escooter because it an electric powered wheeled recreational device.

A “wheeled recreational device” is defined in the dictionary to the NSW Road Rules a wheeled device, built to transport a person, propelled by human power or gravity, and ordinarily used for recreation or play, and it includes the following:

  1. Rollerblades
  2. Rollerskates
  3. Skateboard
  4. Scooter
  5. Unicycle or similar wheeled device

A “wheeled recreational device” doesn’t include a golf buggy, pram, stroller or trolley. Nor does it include a motor-assisted device (whether or not the motor is operating), bicycle, wheelchair or wheeled toy.

While this article covers e-scooters specifically, click here for an outline on other laws on escooter and wheeled recreational devices or toys in NSW.

A person who received this penalty notice fine, can elect to take the matter to court where he/she can either plead ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’. In the event the matter is decided in court, the court is given the power to impose a maximum penalty of $2,200 fine, unless a non-conviction penalty is imposed. This is not a demerit points offence.


Police Power to Seize an E-scooter in NSW

Section 79 of the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW) gives power to a NSW police officer to seize an unregistered vehicle, which includes an e-scooter. Upon it being seized, the police can then make a local court application to have it forfeited to the Crown (section 79(2)). In addition to this power, police can also seize an escooter if it’s being used on a road, pursuant to section 79(2) of the same Act.

Other types of penalties one could face for riding an e-scooter in NSW, other than on private property includes the following:

Ride unregistered vehicle:
$697 on-the-spot fine; or
$2,200 maximum court fine

Ride uninsured vehicle:
$697 on-the-spot fine; or
$5,500 maximum court fine

Ride without License:
$116 on-the-spot fine; or
$2,200 maximum court fine

Ride unlicensed:
$581 on-the-spot fine; or
$2,200 maximum court fine

Riding while disqualified or suspended:
6-month imprisonment
3-6 month disqualification
$3,300 maximum court fine

Ride without helmet:
$349 on-the-spot fine + 3 demerit points; or
$2,200 maximum court fine + 3 demerit points

Ride without registration number plate on:
$464 on-the-spot fine; or
$2,200 maximum court fine

Newcastle have been approached by multiple organisations to trial escooter transportation. A City of Newcastle spokesperson has said, “any future shared electric scooter trial would likely be by expression of interest and be undertaken in conjunction with Transport for NSW”.

Electric scooters have many obvious environmental benefits, and is a fun way to transport. However, for all to benefit, legislation needs to be changed in NSW.

In Brisbane, a tech start up ‘Lime’ is operates an escooter sharing system similar to bike-sharing. While they intend on expanding interstate including Sydney, this is proving difficult due to the laws prohibiting it in NSW.

Queensland have changed their rules to allow “rideables” such as escooters to be ridden on paths, with restrictions.

Mr. Jimmy Singh is the principal lawyer at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia, a team of Sydney criminal lawyers. He is highly respected amongst the profession and recognised for his experience and success, exclusively practising in criminal law for over a decade. Connect with Jimmy via email or LinkedIn LinkedIn