Dorset man's wheelchair 'needs tank licence'

Jim Starr needs a special driving licence to use the wheelchair on public roads.

A disabled father from Dorset has been told he needs a "tank" licence to use his adapted wheelchair on public roads.

Jim Starr, who lives near Weymouth, was bought the £15,000 chair with tank-style tracks by a friend so he could go on the beach with his children.

Police told him it was too big and the DVLA, which licences drivers in the UK, said he needed a special licence.

But Mr Starr said his disability meant he could not even get a regular provisional driving licence.

The father-of-two has used a wheelchair since 1999 because painful joint conditions prevent him from being able to walk.

'Disabled again'

He said: "For the first time in the nine years since we've been down here in Dorset I've managed to get on the beach and actually go along the seafront with the children.

"I've just got my life given back to me over Christmas only for it to be taken away from me again.

"It's like me becoming disabled again - having my legs back and then them being taken away."

Mr Starr initially contacted Dorset Police to check whether he was allowed to use the 3.8mph chair, but was told it was 21cm (8.2in) too wide to be classed as an invalid carriage. The maximum width allowed is 85cm (33.5in).

At 220kg (485lb), it is also much heavier than the maximum weight allowed for mobility vehicles, which is 150kg (330.7lb).

A DVLA spokesman said: "This vehicle appears to be intended for off-road use and can be used on private land.

"However, vehicles cannot be used on public roads unless they meet the necessary requirements."

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