Disabled man drink-drives wheelchair through St Albans city centre

A DISABLED man has pleaded guilty to driving his electric wheelchair drunkenly through the city centre. Magistrates were told Wednesday morning that St Albans taxi drivers did not collect customers in wheelchairs past 5pm which left 64-year-old Francis D

A DISABLED man has pleaded guilty to driving his electric wheelchair drunkenly through the city centre.

Magistrates were told Wednesday morning that St Albans taxi drivers did not collect customers in wheelchairs past 5pm which left 64-year-old Francis Deasy having to make his own way between the pub and his home in Monks Close, Cottonmill, on the night of April 22.

A police officer stopped Deasy in Bricket Road at around 10.30pm after several cars had swerved out of the path of his electric wheelchair.

The police officer, who suspected that Deasy had been drinking heavily, was forced to use the controls on the wheelchair to get him out of the road to safety. He was then arrested and admitted in court that he had consumed more than the legal limit of alcohol.

Tests later revealed that in 100 millilitres of Deasy's urine, there was 260 milligrams of alcohol, with the legal limit being just 107.

His solicitor told the magistrates that Deasy, who suffers from osteoarthritis and severe gout, had been drinking in a city centre pub after being told that one of his legs might need to be amputated.

Most Read

He said: "On the day in question my client received the very distressing news that there was a possibility that his leg would need to be amputated. He told me that he simply couldn't get his head around this particular piece of news. What I would suggest is this is an isolated incident in which he drowned his sorrows in a pub in St Albans."

He added: "Normally, he would call for a taxi to pick him up but I'm informed that you can't get a taxi in St Albans to transport you if you are in a wheelchair after 5pm."

The magistrates, chaired by Diana Tuck, fined Deasy �250 in costs and put 10 points on his driving licence even though he doesn't have one as he can't drive a car.

Andrew Robertson, head of environment and regulatory services at the district council, said after the hearing that they had not received any specific complaints about taxis refusing to take people who were wheelchair bound after 5pm.

He said every hackney carriage has to be wheelchair accessible and that new applicants have to undergo disability awareness training before a licence was granted.

He added: "Any driver who refuses to take a person because they are wheelchair bound would be considered to have acted in a discriminatory fashion under the Disability Discrimination Act. Separately, under taxi law, any driver refusing to take any passenger without reasonable cause will be in breach of the legislation.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter