Need a licence to ride a scooter? One Ipswich man found out the hard way

Stock image of an electric scooter, similar to the GoPed Iuri Duarte was caught riding while over th

Stock image of an electric scooter, similar to the GoPed Iuri Duarte was caught riding while over the cannabis limit. Picture: NICK ANSELL/PA WIRE - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

An Ipswich man has been banned from the road after riding what he thought was ‘a kid’s toy’ while over the cannabis limit and without a proper licence.

Iuri Duarte told magistrates he had ‘no idea’ he needed a licence, insurance and protective headgear to ride his GoPed electric scooter.

The 33-year-old was stopped in Wherry Quay on January 22 – the morning after he smoked cannabis at home in Valley Road.

Duarte admitted drug-driving, being uninsured and unlicensed, and failing to wear a helmet, but argued he was unaware of the law.

“It’s a kid’s toy,” he told the court on Tuesday.

“It’s not a motor vehicle.”

Prosecutor Tess Mann referred magistrates to an October 2000 High Court judgement that GoPeds, powered by an internal combustion engine, were a motor vehicle within the meaning of Section 185 of the Road Traffic Act, before highlighting a more recent High Court judgement, in July 2002, that a CityBug electric scooter was also subject to the same laws.

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“Although the defendant said he didn’t realise, ignorance of the law is not a defence,” she added, before explaining that Duarte’s blood had contained 9.1 microgrammes of cannabis derivative delta-9-THC – the legal limit being 2mcg.

A man of previously good character, he told the court: “When I bought the scooter, it said it was road legal.

“It’s electric. I thought it would have the same regulations as an electric push bike.

“I was wrong, but wasn’t aware.

“I thought it would only need to be insured if it was petrol powered.”

Duarte claimed to have used the scooter to travel between home and work, without problem, for two-and-a-half years.

He also claimed to have smoked cannabis the night before being stopped and drug tested.

“It doesn’t justify what I did, but I didn’t know it would still be in my system,” he added.

“I feel like I’m being made into a criminal for riding a kid’s toy.

“It was my only transport.”

Magistrates banned Duarte for 12 months – fining him £200 for drug-driving and £120 for riding the scooter without insurance.

They imposed no separate penalty for riding otherwise than in accordance with a licence and without a helmet.

He was also ordered to pay prosecution costs and a statutory fee towards victim services.

•Scooters powered by a motor (combustion or electric) are considered mechanically propelled vehicles.

With fewer than four wheels and weighing less than 410kg, they are classed motorbikes, within the moped subclass, defined the Road Traffic Act.

However, you can ride an electric bike in England, Scotland and Wales from the age of 14, if it meets certain requirements. The motor must have a maximum output of 250 watts and should not be able to propel the bike when travelling more than 15.5mph.

These electrically assisted pedal cycles (EAPCs) do not require a licence, registration, tax or insurance.

Any electric bike that does not meet EAPC rules is a motorcycle or moped, and needs to be registered and taxed. You also need a licence and must wear a helmet.

You do not need a licence to drive a mobility scooter or powered wheelchair, but you may have to register it, and only certain types can be driven on the road.


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