June 9, 2022 College, College Student Disciplinary Hearing, Criminal Defense

With busy streets, hot tropical weather, and a need to get from point A to point B, it’s no wonder that our beautiful city of Tallahassee has partnered with various electric scooter companies to bring the best e-scooter service to Florida’s Capitol.

Students at Florida State University have a great opportunity to utilize these scooters or the free Trolley while getting across town. Being a student at one of our State’s best Universities is not only a privilege but also a great opportunity to make some memorable memories.

From going to the Museum of Florida History, Lake Ella, or Midtown during the day, there are many activities for students to engage with our beautiful city. For those who prefer night-life Tallahassee also has many fun things to offer. From going to the popular Yianni’s, taking the complimentary trolley across Downtown,  or one of the many “18 to party, but 21 to drink” bars and clubs, Tallahassee has many options for students who want to go out and have a good time.

It’s important to remember the many consequences that can come from being irresponsible while attending a prestigious school. If you are charged with a crime while attending FSU, not only are you facing possible criminal charges, but the school could also initiate their own disciplinary action against you!

In this blog, we will cover the current state of e-scooters in Tallahassee, answer the question if you can get a DUI while operating them (you can), what consequences you could face as a student, and how having a great DUI & Student Hearing attorney by your side can make all the difference.

Electric Scooters in Tallahassee

In 2019, Tallahassee created a pilot program where they were testing different vendors and how electric scooters would function in our city. The City of Tallahassee shared that they initially had 999 scooters that could be rented by any member of the community and were paid respectively by those people. During the pilot program, the project had over 200,000 rides, with average trip distances of 1.46 miles and lasting around 21 minutes.

In 2020, Tallahassee decided to take the pilot program into a full-fledged micro-mobility program. The city decided to focus on safety, allowing a max speed of 15 miles per hour, and implementing slows zones “around and inside Cascades Park and Lake Ella to ensure a peaceful coexistence [between] pedestrians and scooters.” The city entered into an agreement with Spin and Veo, allowing them each to have a maximum of 750 scooters and a minimum of 200 scooters.   

While helmets are not required for e-scooters, they are highly recommended and should be treated similarly to a bicycle or moped. Scooters are divided into two types of categories, motorized and motor scooters. Motorized scooters don’t have seats and can’t be used on roads unless an individual city allows it as Tallahassee did.

On the other hand, Motor scooters will normally have a seat of some kind and can be used on the road so long as they are registered with the State. Motor scooters require a title, a license plate, and the driver must hold a valid driver’s license.

Scooters, Mopeds, or Motorbikes are their own type of vehicle and should be treated accordingly to comply with Florida Law. To learn more about riding a Scooter, Moped, or Motorbike in Florida, you can visit our blog here.

Can I get a DUI while operating an E-Scooter?

The short answer is yes. Under Florida Statute Section 316.003(106), the legislature defines a “vehicle” as “[e]very device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, except personal delivery devices, mobile carriers, and devices used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.”

To learn more about how our legislation defines “vehicles” and how operating a horse-drawn buggy while intoxicated could even land you a DUI charge, read our blog here.

Under Florida Statute Section 316.193, drivers can be considered under the influence when they are driving or when merely in “actual physical control” of a vehicle.

Actual physical control means that the accused is physically inside and capable of operating the vehicle, even if they are not operating the vehicle when the police arrive.

The courts in Florida normally look at some of these factors when determining if the driver was in actual physical control:

  • Whether evidence shows the defendant driving the vehicle to the location or planning to drive away from the location;
  • Whether the keys were in the engine;
  • Whether the engine was running or warm;
  • Whether the lights were turned on inside the vehicle;
  • Whether the driver’s foot was on the brake or gas pedal;
  • Whether the driver tried to put the car in drive;
  • Whether the defendant was sitting in the driver’s seat; or
  • Whether the seat was reclined or upright.

To learn more about what it means to be in actual physical control of a vehicle in Florida, visit our blog here.

Because the law doesn’t specify the type of vehicle, you can get a DUI for driving a car, motorcycle, bicycle, e-scooter, boat, golf cart, riding mower, etc. By passing both laws the way they did, the legislation is focusing more on the person being publicly intoxicated rather than the type of vehicle that they are operating.

So long as the vehicle can be operated on a highway, you need to make sure to not be intoxicated unless you want to face possible criminal charges.  Our state defines a highway as a street or road that is open to the public for vehicular traffic, or a private road or street where a county or municipality exercises some type of traffic control influence.

Consequences as a Student of a DUI Charge

Do note, that e-scooters are not allowed on campus at FSU, FAMU, Tallahassee Community College, and the Florida State Capitol. If you see an incorrectly parked e-scooter, you can email, or call their Customer Service Number at 1-888-262-5189.

If you are a new or returning student at one of the above College or University, it’s important that you understand your rights and how to properly act when unfortunate events occur. Whether partying, attending sports events, or any of the many interactions that occur on the day to day, being aware of your school’s rules can not only save you a reprimand but can be essential in ensuring you remain a student at your school.

The repercussions that ensue at your school are on top of the criminal repercussions you could face if convicted of a DUI conviction. Not only could you lose your license, but are likely to face fines, an increase in your insurance, and could face possible jail time. For a first time offender, a DUI charge could include:

  • Jail – Up to 6 months
    • If BAC over .15, or minor in the car = 9 months
    • If the cause of the accident = 12 months
  • License suspension – 6 months to one year
  • Fines – $500 – $1,000
    • $1,000 – $2,000 – minor was in the vehicle or BAC was over .15
  • Interlock – If BAC over .15 = at least 6 months
  • Vehicle Impoundment – 10 days

To learn more about the many different issues you may need to be aware of when dealing with a possible DUI conviction, read more in our blog here.

Student Hearing Attorney

Thanks to a recent bill signed into law by Governor DeSantis, students are now entitled to stronger due process rights. These rights have an important impact during the university’s disciplinary hearing process in determining if any alleged violations occurred. Under the amended Fla. Stat. § 1006.60, Due Process rights are based on principles of fairness and deal with the rights that an accused has during a school hearing.

The most important change is that students are now allowed to have an attorney represent them throughout the entire process. The student hearings are also now more like our court system, with attorneys being able to present evidence and question witnesses. To learn more about how a skilled Student Attorney can help represent you during a student hearing, click on our blog here.

Attorney in Tallahassee for Disciplinary Hearings and DUI’s Against College Students

At Pumphrey Law, our attorneys work hard to protect college students from a permanent disciplinary record which can result in their suspension or expulsion from area colleges or universities including Florida State University (FSU) and Florida A&M University (FAMU). When a criminal accusation is made against a graduate or college student, obtaining experienced representation may provide important protections.

An arrest for a DUI does not mean you have to be convicted of such a serious crime. The right Tallahassee DUI defense lawyers can frame a strong defense strategy while making sure your rights are protected, giving you the greatest chance at a reduction or dismissal of charges.

Call (850) 681-7777 for a free, confidential consultation and to speak directly with a criminal defense attorney about protecting the student’s disciplinary record.

We strive to help the student obtain a favorable result so that future educational and career opportunities are not adversely impacted.

Written by Jesus Lozano

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