Sat, Sep 02, 2006 - Page 4 News List

New Zealand cops drop charge against armless joy-rider

NO ARM, NO FOUL A dangerous driving charge was scuppered after the police were convinced the man could drive safely using just his feet


New Zealand police yesterday dropped a dangerous driving charge against an armless man caught speeding without a license, saying they accepted that the man could operate a car safely with his feet.

Colin Raymond Smith, who was born without arms, was clocked driving at 121kph an hour in a 100kph zone in March and pulled over by a highway patrol officer who noticed Smith's right foot on the dashboard.

Smith, 31, was issued with an on-the-spot speeding infringement and charged with dangerous driving and driving without a license.

Smith paid a NZ$170 (US$112) speeding fine and NZ$400 fine for driving without a license and turned up at the District Court in the North Island town of Tauranga yesterday to defend the dangerous driving charge.

But prosecutor Sergeant Sean Brennan told the court police wanted to drop the charge after receiving evidence Smith could safely drive an automatic car with power steering. He said Smith had obtained a learner driver's permit since being picked up and should now be allowed back on the road, but that his vehicle should undergo some modifications.

"The police believe that in the interests of public safety this matter has been resolved," Brennan told the court.

Smith reportedly told the officer who pulled him over that he had been driving for years using one foot to steer and the other to work the accelerator and brake pedals.

At an earlier hearing in June, Smith's lawyer John Holmes told the court the defense would call expert testimony to prove that his client could drive safely using his feet.

Holmes said police were equating disability with danger, which could not be substantiated.

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