Driving Disqualification & E-scooters
The pandemic has resulted in many changes in so many lives particularly since the first lockdown in March 2020. Suddenly being told to stay home and avoid public transport forced a significant number of us to rethink our daily habits. In larger cities where citizens are highly dependent on public transport, people had a new problem to confront. In London, for example, millions of people depend upon the tube to cut the commute-time of what would usually be a time consuming journey across the city via car. How could we get around this when some could not work from home?
As a London resident myself, I often saw people flying past me on e-scooters even before the pandemic but there has been a marked rise in their use over the last 12 months. The reality is, using most e-scooters is illegal on public roads as they are treated as a motor vehicle under road traffic laws and are subject to the same restrictions (having vehicle insurance for example).
I recently received an enquiry from a young gentleman (Mr X) who had lost his driving licence under the totting up provisions in February. He was disqualified for a period of 6 months but was dependent upon his vehicle to get to work and was still reluctant to use the tube to its confined space. He had been driving for over 7 years yet suddenly found himself without his beloved motor so turned to E-Scooters to get around.
Some readers may be aware that the Government is introducing e-scooter schemes for them to be used in various places or to traverse certain boroughs in London and elsewhere. This takes much of the hassle out of having to worry about whether you need tax and insurance (and can avoid the often hefty penalties that accompany offences of driving without them) and can still get from A to B in daily nifty time.
“A solution!”, thought Mr X and so he took up e-scootering around London to get to and from work as well as run daily errands and the disqualification seemed a little more bearable.
When E-Scooters Become not so Convenient
One day during July, a mere 3 weeks before his 6-month disqualification was due to end, Mr X was stopped when passing police officers in the street. After enquiries were made, Mr X was asked whether he had a driving licence. Upon checking the details, officers then discovered that Mr X was disqualified. He has since been charged with driving whilst disqualified, much to Mr X’s astonishment.
Section 103 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 states that a person is guilty of an offence if he, whilst disqualified, drives a motor vehicle on a road. Section 185 of the same Act then clarifies that for the purposes of that act, “motor vehicle” and “other expressions relating to vehicles” include state that a “motor car” means a “mechanically propelled vehicle, not being a motorcycle or an invalid carriage, which is constructed itself to carry a load or passengers”. So in a nutshell, an e-scooter is subject to the same laws and regulations as a 4-wheel drive!
From Bad, to Worse
The penalty for driving whilst disqualified can sometimes be severe and ranges between a low level community order up to 12 weeks in prison! Whilst Mr X’s case should certainly not be one where in prison should be considered, he will face an extension of his disqualification of between 3-6 months or receive 6 penalty points.
Mr X has served the majority of his sentence not realising that in using an e-scooter he was breaking the law. As a result of the 6-month ban, his driving licence would have been returned to him clean of points which is a side effect of the totting procedure. Now however, his licence, which is exceedingly important to him, will be taken away for an additional length of time or have another 6 points endorsed on it, leaving him in a precarious situation for the next 3 years.
I expect all readers covet their licence and their vehicle and want to maintain their driving privileges. The point is that if you are ever in desperate need of alternative transport, make sure you do thorough research before jumping onto (for example) an e-scooter as you may unintentionally be putting your right to drive at even greater risk than before.