An elite level hockey player has been banned from driving after he was caught over the drink drive limit riding an e-scooter.
It was just after 2am that patrolling police saw two yellow council electric scooters being riden erratically; swerving back and forth, Nottingham Magistrates’ Court heard.
The riders were pulled over and one, William Gibson, of Harrington Drive, Lenton, gave a positive breath test on March 7.
He was handcuffed as he was arrested and taken to the city’s Bridewell police station where a second evidential breath test showed he had 72 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, over the limit of 35.
Gibson, 19, who is of previous good character, pleaded guilty to the offence when he appeared in court on Wednesday, March 24.
Louise O’Driscoll, mitigating, said Gibson and his flatmate took possession of two scooters and were travelling along the cycle path which runs parallel to Castle Boulevard, Nottingham.
They were travelling in convoy after renting the scooters moments before.
Two people were on the second scooter which they assumed was what had alerted the police’s attention.
“The first thing aked of the defendant was ‘did he know he was travelling on a motorised vehicle which had all the implications of travelling in a car?’ and he said ‘no, he did not realise'”, said Ms O’Driscoll.
She said he was handcuffed and put in the Bridewell and spent a considerable time in the police cells.
Gibson, who had a clean driving licence, now has grave concerns others may fall into the same trap “so to speak”, said Ms O’Driscoll, without the publicity being there.
She said the scooters were available 24 hours a day via an App and no one was manning them.
One of the magistrates hearing the case said: “The city council licence them. On the App it would be a good idea to say ‘this is a motor vehicle'”.
Ms O’Driscoll added: “I think important lessons need to be learned and followed up”.
She said, “inevitably he will lose his licence”.
His passion is hockey, he has played since the age of six, and he now plays at elite level and coaches under 15s when he goes home.
The magistrate said: “It is not the first case we have had like this. It is classed as a motor vehicle”.
Gibson was banned from driving for 18 months and wants to complete a drink-drive rehabilitation course, which would reduce the ban by 137 days. He was fined £120, ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £34 and court costs of £85.
According to Nottingham City Council’s website, it has more than 200 electric scooters (e-scooters), available for both short-term and long-term hire.
Its rental scheme, operated by Wind Mobility, aims to support key workers and people getting back to work in both Nottingham and Derby, during a 12-month trial period that began on October 27, 2020.
Advice given includes: Riding an e-scooter on a pavement is illegal; riding is permitted anywhere cycles are allowed; for your own safety, don’t ride on roads with a speed limit above 30mph, unless there is a segregated cycle route; only one person per e-scooter; you are encouraged to wear a helmet; watch out for pedestrians and other road users who may not be used to seeing e-scooters.
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A spokesperson for Nottingham City Council said after the hearing: “We are currently participating in one of several e-scooter trials taking place across the UK, led by the Department for Transport. E-scooters have the potential to provide an affordable, convenient and greener way to travel but, as with any new technology, you would expect to see some issues. This trial gives us the opportunity to address those.
“It is especially disappointing to see people using the e-scooters in this way because, like any vehicle, it is illegal to operate while drunk. Working with operator Wind Mobility, we will be reviewing the information provided to users to make clear that drink-driving is a criminal offence.”