Man charged over McDonald's mobility scooter protest is cleared of 'drink driving'
A mobility scooter driver prosecuted under a Victorian drink drive law for staging a protest at a McDonald's restaurant, has rode free from court after prosecutors admitted a trial would be a waste of money.
Michael Green, 62, refused to leave his local branch of the fast food chain when staff informed him they could not serve him at the drive-thru counter because he was not driving a car.
The former HGV driver, who was registered disabled following a head injury in 1997, was charged by police with being drunk in charge of a carriage under the 1872 Licensing Act, after refusing to be breathalysed by police.
The 1872 licensing act was originally brought in to crack down on anyone caught drunk in charge of a carriage, steam engine, bicycle a horse or a cow.
But when he appeared before Skegness Magistrates Court, the Crown offered no evidence and admitted a prosecution would not be in the public interest.
Mr Green had become angry when staff at the Skegness branch of McDonald's refused to serve him at the drive thru section of the restaurant.
His protest caused chaos and he was eventually arrested after being accused of being drunk.
Nick Todd, prosecuting, told magistrates: "It is not often somebody appears before the court contravening a section of the 1872 Carriage Act.
"Mr Green was on his mobility scooter and went to the drive-thru section of the restaurant.
"McDonald's staff said they would not serve him for insurance, and health and safety reasons.
"Mr Green refused to leave and was shouting to staff and the surrounding crowd 'all I want is a burger.' There is no evidence he was abusive.
"After 40 minutes police arrived and attempted to breathalyse him. Baring in mind he was on a mobility scooter there is a question in mind if they were entitled to do so.
"Mr Green was then arrested and charged.
"I do not intend to have a trial on this matter and do not think it is in the public interest.
The average cost of a trial in Magistrates Court is £3,000.
"Nobody was hurt and there is no evidence he was abusive."
At the time of the incident a spokesman for McDonald's said: "Following advice taken from independent parties and company safety risk assessments, it is our policy only road worthy motor vehicles should be served in our drive-thru lanes.
"This takes into account a number of considerations including space available in the lanes and the heights of ordering points and service hatches.
"Mobility scooter users are invited to enter into our restaurants and order food at service points which are more convenient for them, and most importantly, safer for the customer and crew when selling food."
Speaking after the case, Mr Green said: "All I wanted was a burger and the police came up with this stupid old law to charge me with.
"I will never go to McDonald's again. The restaurant was full of holidaymakers so I decided to use the drive-thru.
"My mobility scooter is licensed to go on public roads and has a number plate, I know it is road worthy and McDonald's have served other mobility scooter drivers in the past.
"The staff just shut the hatch. All I wanted was a burger, so I wouldn't budge. Most people seemed to be supporting me.
"When the police arrived they tried to breathalyse me but I wasn't drunk. I just took it out after two seconds.
"They arrested me, put me in a police car and left my mobility scooter at McDonald's. I was taken to Skegness Police Station where I was kept for two hours.
"They never breathalysed me in the station and then charged me under this stupid old law.
"After that they brought me my mobility scooter back and I was allowed to drive home on it. It is just a joke."
Mobility scooters are classed as a carriage and are not covered by current drink-driving laws.
The crime has a maximum penalty of £200 or 51 weeks in prison.