Celebrating after their Six Nations’ win over Scotland, Welsh rugby star Andy Powell and a mate decided that it would be a good idea to take a golf buggy for a spin… They were arrested on the M4 at Junction 33 Services near the team hotel in the small hours of Sunday morning and charged with drunken driving.
While it is the sort prank that probably raised a grin (no one was hurt and the image of a couple of giggling rugby gorillas tootling along the motorway in a golf buggy will probably have the arresting officers dining out on the story for the rest of their lives…) it does raise some interesting issues.
I think we all know, for instance, that you can be ‘done’ for riding a bicycle under the influence – and it is also against the law to ride a quad bike while drunk. However, there are some disturbing loopholes. While mobility scooters are technically regarded as motor vehicles, a recent case against an Oldham woman was dropped despite the fact that she was three times over the legal limit. The law is somewhat blurred – apparently – if the scooter is travelling along a footpath or bridleway. Oh really?? So it’s ok for a drunken scooter-user to collide with motorists safely tucked up in their cars, but unprotected pedestrians have to take their chances. Yes – I know they generally travel quite slowly, but they can move at something of a clip and the ensuing carnage if one ploughed into a pushchair is unthinkable. Besides, if Andy Powell’s golf buggy is regarded as a potential hazard, surely so should a mobility scooter…
The Government is also considering RELAXING the rules, so that anyone in charge of a pleasure craft less than 7 metres long (that’s about 21 feet in old money…), moving at less than 7 knots would be exempt from drink driving rules. Which leaves me scratching my head, somewhat… It all sounds very innocuous, doesn’t it? Except there are areas where swimmers and boats are often quite close together (East Head beach in Chichester Harbour springs to mind). A 15 foot wooden-hulled boat is quite capable of braining a swimmer while moving a lot slower than 7 knots… And I’m sure that on-shore rescue services will be just thrilled to think that any inebriated fool will be able to stagger onto their pleasure craft with impunity.
The other mode of transport that is exempt from any drink restrictions is ski-ing. Because it isn’t powered… Erm. But… surely, a skier needs to get going using their own body movement – like on a bicycle? Or am I missing something? And before anyone rolls their eyes and mutters under their breath about my kill-joy attitude – I would mention that I didn’t necessarily advocate that being drunk-in-charge of a golf buggy was a crime – the Law said it was. And if the Law is right about that, then surely on a crowded ski slope, vulnerable beginners and children have the right to expect that après-ski refreshments mean just that.
Because accidents DO happen on pavements, ski slopes and on water, as well as on the roads. And I think it odd that while a couple of inebriated rugby players are convicted – those in charge of equipment equally capable of inflicting damage on themselves and others are, apparently, immune to such prosecution.