71-year-old on mobility scooter cops fourth DUI conviction

AN UNREPENTANT 71-year-old has defended his right to keep driving his "wheelchair", despite a blood-alcohol level four times the legal alcohol limit.

Ray Vivian Hodges, of Buderim, recorded the shocking alcohol reading after police found him sprawled on the ground, mumbling incoherently, beside his overturned scooter at Mooloolaba late last month.

With the aid of a walking stick, Mr Hodges has faced Maroochydore Magistrates Court for what was his fourth drink-driving offence since 2008.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Jamie Baker said officers had been called to the corner of Walan St and Smith St about 9.20pm on March 28 and found Mr Hodges lying on the ground half-naked.

"His motorised scooter was lying on its side and the rider was lying on his back on the side of the road," Sgt Baker said.

"Police officers had a conversation with him and detected a strong smell of liquor on his breath," Sgt Baker said.

"His eyes were glassy and red, he was slurring his speech and he was not wearing a shirt."

Mr Hodges who admitted consuming 10 large glasses of wine, recorded a blood-alcohol reading of 0.209.

He said he had "taken offence" at some police allegations, particularly the categorisation of his transport as a vehicle.

"The unit I was in, by definition of the Department of Transport, is a wheelchair," he said.

"On this occasion, the wheelchair was my legs. As my legs, it was the only way I could get home.

"I have a clear memory of it. I was with some friends. I went to go home and there was no way in the world I was going to ride my wheelchair. I had to get to the bank to get some money out to get a taxi.

"My character will be humiliated and I am deeply embarrassed."

Magistrate John Hodgins said it was not the man's character that was in question, but his excessive drinking.

On top of the latest offence, which was recorded in the first 24 hours of the Easter road-safety campaign, the court heard Mr Hodges' previous convictions included blood-alcohol readings of 0.125 in 2008, 0.122 in December, 2011, and 0.077 in January this year.

Mr Hodgins said in light of the death of scooter rider Kim Horrigan, 52, who was hit by a van while crossing the Nicklin Way at Currimundi last week, people such as Mr Hodges needed to be stopped before he killed himself or someone else.

Mr Hodges was disqualified from driving for 18 months and sentenced to four months in jail, suspended for two years.



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