Drunk on an electric scooter in Switzerland? You could lose your driving licence

A man attempting to have his blood alcohol results struck out as evidence after an e-scooter crash has lost his appeal, with the court likely to uphold a decision to strip the man of his driving licence and convict him for drunk driving.

Drunk on an electric scooter in Switzerland? You could lose your driving licence

They’re marketed as a fun way to get around, particularly in urban areas – but for one man in the western Swiss canton of Vaud, a drunken scooter escapade looks like resulteing in him losing his drivers licence and a potential criminal conviction. 

In October of 2019, the man crashed an e-scooter after falling over the handlebars in the middle of the night, injuring his jaw and losing several teeth in the process. 

When approached by police after the incident, he said he had consumed four of five glasses of wine and took full responsibility for the accident. 

READ: Mobility wars: Lime e-scooters return to streets of Zurich 

The incident took place in Nyon, around 25 kilometres from the Geneva city centre. 

While police declined to breathalyse the man at the scene, he was later blood tested in the hospital. 

The current court case was hearing an appeal from the man, who sought to have the results of the blood test struck from the record.

The court ruled that the evidence of the blood test was admissible as there was an interest in taking the blood test and determining the results.

The man is likely to uphold both the loss of licence as well as the conviction for drink driving. 

Switzerland changed its way of measuring alcohol limits in 2016, with 0.25 mg/l in exhaled air now the relevant limit. More information on determining this level – and the consequences for driving drunk – are available here

In Switzerland as well as neighbouring Germany, e-scooter riders and cyclists risk losing points or their drivers licence completely for irresponsible driving – even though a drivers licence is not a requirement to ride. 

E-scooters have grown in popularity across Switzerland among locals and tourists alike, although there have been a range of safety issues – including a software glitch which required a recall of Lime scooters from Basel and Zurich

E-scooter users are restricted from using footpaths or roads and are required to travel no faster than 20km/h. 

For an extensive breakdown of the rules for using e-scooters, please click here


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Reader question: Can I take the Swiss driving test in English?

There are quite a few things to learn and remember when taking an exam for a driver’s licence, and it's even more daunting in a foreign language. These are the rules in Switzerland.

Reader question: Can I take the Swiss driving test in English?

Whether you’re learning to drive in Switzerland or already have a licence from your home country but have to exchange it for a Swiss one (as you must do after 12 months of residency), you will have to take a test — certainly in the former case and likely in the latter one.

The rule is that if your licence was issued by a EU or EFTA country (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein), you’ll be able to get a Swiss licence without having to take a driving test.

READ MORE: How to change over to a Swiss driver’s licence

This also generally applies to countries with which Switzerland has concluded an agreement to mutually recognise each others’ licences: Andorra, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Morocco,  Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, Singapore, Taiwan, Tunisia, and the United States.

Nationals of all other countries — that is, whose foreign driver’s licences can’t be automatically exchanged for a Swiss one — will have to take a test.

What you should know:

The Swiss driving test includes a written exam and a practical road test. There is no such thing as a national test, with each canton administering tests and issuing licences (which, of course, are then valid across the country).

Applications for the theory and the practical exams are made at your local Road Traffic Office (Strassenverkehrsamt in German, Office Cantonal des Automobiles et de la Navigation in French, and Servizio della circolazione e della navigazione in Italian). 

Addresses and contact information for each cantonal office can be found here.

Can you take the test in English?

In most cantons, theory exams are given in one of the national languages (German, French and Italian). Only a few — Bern, Glarus, Solothurn, St. Gallen, Thurgau, Neuchâtel, Schwyz, Vaud and Zurich — offer the theory test in English.

If you don’t live in one of these nine cantons and you are not fluent enough in German/French/Italian to take the test, a translator may be present, but only one who is certified by your local Road Traffic Office. Contact the department to ask where and how to find a suitable interpreter.

As for the practical driving test, you can request an English-speaking examiner, but there is no guarantee that you’ll get one.

EXPLAINED: How visitors to Switzerland can avoid driving penalties

At the very least, you should learn basic driving terms — such as right and left turns, lane change, parking instructions, etc. — in the local language.

These will be taught to you if you take your driving lessons in German, French, or Italian (rather than English), which may prove more difficult to begin with, but will prove useful when the time comes to pass your exams.