Drunken driving is dangerous, even if the vehicle is a motorized scooter that balances on two wheels.

Norwegian police have charged a man with drunk driving, but in the use of a Segway and not while driving a car or another vehicle.

According to the BBC, witnesses saw the man in a restaurant area in central Oslo and reported him for "strange behavior." Apparently, he had difficulty balancing himself on the the Segway, which relies on the user controlling his balance and orientation to operate properly. The police arrested the man for being drunk and await the results of a blood test to confirm that he was inebriated.

There is a perception that a Segway is not in the same class as a car and merely a recreational vehicle. Finn Erik Groenliveien, head of Oslo traffic police, said, "I really hope we're not risking having lots of drink-drivers on two-wheeled vehicles. These are treated like any other vehicle when it comes to the limit on blood alcohol."

Police inspector Jan Guttormsen said it's the first case of drunken Segway he has heard of, "I'm not surprised, but disappointed they don't appreciate the danger."

The timing of this case is notable. Prior to July of this, "self-balancing vehicles" were banned from use in Norway. The reasoning is that a Segway's top speed of 12 mph would have classed the machines as mopeds, but the country's road administration didn't think they were safe enough. Eventually, the government lifted the ban. According to the BBC, officials hope that the two-wheeled vehicles would help "revolutionize traffic patterns."

In the United States, the 50 states have different laws governing Segways. Some states allow Segway use everywhere, others allow it only on private property. And then local regulations may place further restrictions. Some will allow Segway use only in streets or on bike paths. For example, Segways are legal in New York State, but illegal in New York City.

The Segway is a self-balancing two-wheeled vehicle created by inventor Dean Kamen and unveiled to the public in 2001. Since then, Segway Inc. has manufactured the personal transports, created new versions every few years. The latest models, the i2 SE and the x2 SE, were announced in March 2014.

Photo: Mark Jensen 

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