Criminal Justice

Woman who led police on low-speed chase on her mobility scooter wins reversal of her conviction

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A woman who led police on a low-speed chase on her electric mobility scooter wasn’t operating a motor vehicle and should not have been convicted for fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer, an Oregon appeals court has ruled.

The trial judge should have granted an acquittal sua sponte in the prosecution of Jennifer Grace Gayman, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled in a June 9 decision.

The Oregonian has coverage of the reversal.

Gayman used the scooter because of a degenerative eye disease and a pulmonary disease, according to the Oregonian. Officers in Brookings, Oregon, stopped Gayman when she heading home from karaoke. Gayman was cited for operating her scooter on a sidewalk and crosswalk and for failing to wear a helmet.

One officer told Gayman that she could not continue to ride her scooter home without a helmet, and she would go to jail if she did so. Gayman drove her scooter home anyway, as officers trailed her with their lights and siren on in a low-speed pursuit that lasted two to three minutes.

Officers arrested Gayman for fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer when she arrived home.

The appeals court said the trial court had committed a plain error by failing to acquit.

“Here, the gravity of the error and the ends of justice move us to exercise our discretion to correct the error,” the court said.

“The actions of the state in this case—from the police officers’ decision to pursue defendant in a low-speed chase for the $25 specific-fine traffic violation of not wearing a helmet, to the prosecutor’s decision to pursue a felony charge under those circumstances, to the attorney general’s office’s decision to defend those decisions on appeal—should not be ignored.”

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