A Mira Mesa man with a disability has taken his case for non-traditional mobility devices to trial.
Jeff Kemp, 60, was cited last June by a San Diego police officer for riding his scooter in the street without a helmet.
Kemp isn't ready for a wheelchair, but his disability prohibits him from staying on two feet for too long. So he struck what he thought was a compromise with his scooter.
But the scooter led him to a far greater challenge: Changing California's definition of mobility aid.
By state definition, a seat, two wheels and a motor is a scooter. But to Kemp, it’s a mobility aid.
“It makes it a lot easier to get in and out of the car. It's cheaper. It gets through crowds easier,” he said.
Complications with a hip replacement left Kemp disabled.
“I can't sit for very long. I can't stand for very long,” he explained.
He bought a razor scooter, hung up his handicap parking placard and painted the same symbol on the foot rest.
Kemp says he's ridden it on sidewalks, bike paths, some streets, in buildings and parking lots for five years without complaint – until now.
San Diego Police Officer Godfrey Maynard cited Kemp for riding on a road with the posted speed limit of 25 miles or more and failure to wear a helmet.
Kemp was ticketed after crossing Mira Mesa Boulevard at the 8800 block June 19, the very place NBC 7 cameras recorded a woman Wednesday on a three-wheeled mobility device, also wearing no helmet.
Kemp's impassioned plea to a judge was not evidence enough to override current state law.
He was found guilty on the helmet violation. The other was dismissed for lack of evidence. Kemp's fine was reduced by half.
Officer Maynard politely passed on an interview.
Kemp says he feels defeated.
“It's my dignity, you know? Where have they taken that? I'm going to have to wear a helmet like a little kid. I'm not a little kid. I'm a senior,” Kemp said.
The Americans with Disabilities Act allows a disabled person to use whatever mobility device that best suits them inside public structures. More two-wheeled vehicles are now in use, so similar situations could arise.