3/14/2008Georgia: Traffic Cop Tickets Wheelchair
Gwinnett County, Georgia police say slow-moving wheelchair on public roads presents a traffic hazard.
Police in Gwinnett County, Georgia threatened to impound the wheelchair belonging to a woman with cerebral palsy. Rhonda Wilson used a three-wheeled motorized chair to get to work, one mile away, in the morning. She rode on the sidewalk as far as it could take her, but when she ventured onto Center Way having no other alternative after the sidewalk ended, she was pulled over and ticketed for driving her wheelchair without a valid driver's license.
Police told WXIA-TV that her 5 MPH trip on the road presented a traffic hazard. They added that if she wins her court battle scheduled for April 28 or obtains a driver's license, they will just write more traffic tickets if she defies their wish to keep her off the public road.
States do not have a consistent policy with respect to traffic tickets and wheelchairs. In Tennessee, for example, police impounded the wheelchair belonging to a disabled man who was the victim of a car accident. In 2005, a North Carolina Court of Appeals decision clarified that traffic tickets do not apply to devices "designed for and intended to be used as a means of transportation for a person with a mobility impairment, or who uses the device for mobility enhancement" under that state's laws (read decision).
Georgia law only allows motorized wheelchairs on public road in bicycle lanes (Georgia Code Section 40-6-320). Wilson could face a $500 civil fine if convicted.