E-scooter rider banned for drink-driving 'didn't know he was breaking law'

·2-min read
Joseph Vesey was banned from driving for 12 months after being caught driving one of Newcastle's e-scooters while under the influence of alcohol. (PA)
Joseph Vesey was banned from driving for 12 months after being caught driving one of Newcastle's e-scooters while under the influence of alcohol. (PA)

A student has been banned from the roads for 12 months for riding an e-scooter while drunk.

Joseph Vesey, 22, of Devonshire Place, Jesmond, Newcastle, claimed he didn't know he was breaking the law after he was seen by police weaving along the road on an orange hire scooter – part of a new scheme in the city – at around 1am on 25 February.

North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard that an officer on duty in Osborne Road, Jesmond, stopped him and smelled intoxicants on his breath.

Tests at the police station showed he had 49mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath, above the legal limit of 35mg.

He admitted drink-driving, and was banned from driving for 12 months and ordered to pay a fine, costs and a surcharge totalling £239.

His solicitor Sophie Allinson told the court there is a great deal of confusion regarding e-scooters and that the law surrounding their use is “fast-paced”.

An e-scooter in Jesmond, Newcastle, where a fleet of 250 orange electric scooters has been opened up to the public. (PA)
An e-scooter in Jesmond, Newcastle, where a fleet of 250 orange electric scooters has been opened to the public. (PA)

She said: “Unfortunately a number of people have not appreciated that these are motor vehicles, they are marketed as fun electric scooters.

“He had not appreciated for a second he was committing an offence by using one.”

She said the onus was on Vesey to know the law, but his decision to ride the e-scooter had no maliciousness.

“He has simply not appreciated that these are not toys, they are classed as vehicles,” she said.

Vesey has no previous convictions and was in full-time education, she said.

He opted to take a drink-drive awareness course that will reduce his ban by 12 weeks.

Five more e-scooter riders were due before the same court on Thursday for similar offences said to have occurred in Jesmond on the same night.

In October, the government's transport committee called for swift action to legalise the use of private e-scooters on roads and cycle lanes.

Around 30 trials of rental e-scooters are under way across the UK, running until autumn 2021, which will help decide on whether and how e-scooters might be legalised.

Trial e-scooters are classified as "motor vehicles" and users require some form of driving licence.

The committee’s report concluded that e-scooters have the potential to be a low-cost, accessible and environmentally friendly alternative to private cars.