Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Stretching the law

The Daily Mail reports that a disabled pensioner has been convicted of riding his mobility scooter while over the drink-drive limit. I had always understood that, as mobility scooters were not licensed vehicles, the same law applied to them as to pedal cycles, in that it was illegal to ride them when “under the influence of alcohol”, but there was no defined legal limit. However, in this case the man was breathalysed and found to have a blood-alcohol level of 122mg (the legal limit being 80mg). At that level, while not fit to drive a car, someone isn’t in any meaningful sense “drunk”, and it seems that the police are stretching the law in a way that was not intended. I know a number of old boys who use mobility scooters to get to the pub, and if they were being hounded for having more than a couple of pints it could kill off what social life they have. And I imagine a lot of people would be up in arms if the police sought to extend the same principle to pedal cycles.

The comments on the article also show a depressing level of prejudice against the disabled.


  1. if they were being hounded for having more than a couple of pints it could kill off what social life they have.

    That's the point, isn't it?

  2. Sorry, Dick, what is the point? Are you saying the police have a policy of depriving disabled people of a social life?

  3. All too many of the policies of today's righteous killjoys, while supposedly well-intentioned*, in practice have the effect of curbing people's social lives and making their lives a misery. This is just another example.

    * while it is often said that today's fervour for banning springs from an altruistic if misplaced desire to protect people, more and more I feel the basic motivation is a desire for control.

  4. There's nothing wrong with giving advice out telling people that drinking ten pints a night might not be particularly good for you or that getting in your car after a skinful isn't a good idea. After that though that's where the public health stuff ends.

    So no fake charities, no people talking about the 'binge-drinking epidemic' and no bansturbatory politicians.

    Pubs are for the most part emasculated, horrible places these days anyway - glorified olde-world chain cafés that happen to sell beer. Media commentators that eulogise pubs these days are the very people that don't actually visit them. Bars and cafés in mainland Europe are far more accommodating and laid back than the stuffy, repressive atmosphere we have here. That said, it's not quite as bad as Canada - trying to get a decent drink there was a challenge in itself and if you have any more than two beers you're treated like a leper.

  5. Sad story, but I feel he was ill-advised to defend himself on this matter. I've been told he would have had a good case to argue.

  6. Indeed - as the post implies, I feel the authorities were stretching the law beyond its intended scope, and a lawyer might have been able to point this out. Having a blood alcohol level of 122mg is not in legal terms per se proof of inability to control a mobility scooter or, for that matter, a pedal cycle.

  7. From the Mail:
    "The defendant, who was representing himself in court, admitted the charge of driving a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road while unfit to drive through drink."
    The key word here being 'admitted'.
    If people continue not to educate themselves about the ways of the law, and prefer to admit to anything they are accused of, then there's really no hope I'm afraid.
    There's a wealth of stuff on the internet to educate yourself if you have a mind to.


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