Former officer's electric bike lands him in court

If it looks like a moped and goes as fast as a moped, is it actually a moped?

Not according to a Blenheim defence lawyer.

That was the argument lawyer Mike Hardy-Jones made at a seven-hour defended hearing for former Blenheim traffic policeman Anthony Dale Bridgman, who faces a charge of driving while disqualified and driving an unregistered vehicle.

Mr Hardy-Jones argued that what his client was riding to work when police stopped him in September last year was a vehicle classed by the Land Transport Safety Authority as a type of bicycle and did not need a licence or to be registered.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Steve Frost said police stopped Bridgman about 7.30am on September 21 travelling south along Alabama Rd.Senior Constable Roger Ewers, of Nelson, gave evidence that Bridgman was aggressive towards him and another officer when they pulled him over.

Bridgman was adamant he had done the proper checks on the bike and did not need a licence.

DISQUALIFIED DRIVER: Antony Dale Bridgman.

Mr Bridgman said he used it to drive the 7km to work as a dry goods storeman at a vineyard.

Mr Hardy-Jones said the vehicle was a "power-assisted pedal cycle", which was part of the definition of a bicycle under LTSA regulations.

Mr Frost said the "easy rider" vehicle was classified as a moped because the main source of power was the motor, not human power. Pedals could be fitted but when Bridgman was stopped these were stored in a compartment.

Judge Geoffrey Ellis said the acid test was what mode the vehicle was stopped in because it did have the ability to be pedalled.

Judge Ellis reserved his decision but said he took special interest in the case as a keen cyclist and would give it some preference.

Bridgman had been disqualified from driving for a year when he was found guilty on two charges of dangerous driving causing injury in the Buller Gorge in 2007. Two motorcyclists received serious head injuries when they collided with Bridgman's police vehicle.

Bridgman had made a three-point turn round a bend on the narrow road to chase another motorcyclist who had passed him doing 125kmh.

He was disqualified from driving for a year and was required to pay $60,000 to the two victims as well as do 100 hours of community service.

Judge Ellis said that given this was something of a test case, he would reserve his decision to a date to be notified.