Skateboard not a motor vehicle, say magistrates

Remi Barban with his motorised skateboard
Remi Barban with his motorised skateboard
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There was relief for a skateboarder accused of drink-driving this week when magistrates decided his motorised skateboard was not a motor vehicle.

Remi Barban was arrested at around 11.30pm on May 17 after police saw him travelling on his skateboard in Parkway, Bury St Edmunds, ‘weaving from one side of the road to the other’.

He was more than twice the legal drink-drive limit, recording 86 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath.

Barban, 33, of Oliver Road, Bury, had his trial heard at Bury Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, having previously pleaded not guilty to driving with excess alcohol and driving whilst disqualified.

Sarah-Jane Atkins, prosecuting, said the facts of the case were not in dispute, but whether or not the skateboard could be said to be a motor vehicle was. She said the website for the EightBall wireless skateboard, operated by handheld remote control and with a top speed of 42km/h, carries a disclaimer saying ‘it is not legal to ride an electric skateboard on the public highway in the UK,’ which includes footpaths.

Magistrates heard that Go-Peds, electric scooters and Segways were considered motor vehicles in previous court rulings, which had applied the test of a ‘reasonable person’. “This motorised skateboard really is akin to a Go-Ped,” said Miss Atkins.

Barban, who was banned from driving for 20 months in November, said his skateboard was not designed for use on roads and doing so was an ‘isolated case’, with him feeling ‘obliged’ to because there was no pedestrian crossing. “Probably because I didn’t have all my senses, I forgot that there was a crossing further down the road,” he said.

Presiding magistrate Stephanie Challinor said of the skateboard: “We’re not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that a reasonable person would say one of its users would be a road user.”

Barban was found not guilty of both charges.