Judge scolds man for operating wheelchair in roadway

John Coleman arrested twice after operating wheelchair in Broward Boulevard

Published On: Mar 22 2013 05:58:21 PM EDT   Updated On: Mar 23 2013 08:55:13 AM EDT
John Coleman
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -

A 51-year-old man appears to be disobeying orders from police and a county judge about keeping his wheelchair out of the road.

"Isn't this the same gentleman who kept telling me he had a constitutional right to ride his wheelchair in traffic?" asked Broward County Circuit Court Judge John Hurley during John Coleman's bond hearing Sunday.

"Yes, judge, he's been arrested again," said a voice off camera.

"The sidewalks are dangerous," Coleman told Local 10's Jeff Weinsier.

WATCH: Unedited video of interview

Local 10 found Coleman operating his wheelchair in Broward Boulevard on Friday.

"Broward Boulevard is level. It is a level roadway," he said.

Coleman said he tries to stay in the bike lanes but sometimes ends up on the road to avoid holes.

"I'm going to ride around where I damn please as long as bicyclists can do the same thing," he said.

Coleman moved to South Florida a few months ago after his leg was amputated. He has been ticketed twice and charged with obstructing traffic and disorderly conduct for having his wheelchair in Broward Boulevard.

Coleman told Hurley it's his constitutional right to share the roadway with vehicles.

"Your constitutional right would really do you no good if you are planted on the front side of a large truck," Hurley said in court.

"Your honor, on the contrary," replied Coleman.

"Oh gosh," said Hurley. "How fast can you make your wheelchair move, sir?"

"About 8 miles an hour," answered Coleman.

Well, Broward Boulevard, I believe, is 35 or 40 miles per hour," said Hurley. "That's a big difference, sir. You're going to get run over. You're going to get hurt -- someone's going to try to avoid you at the last minute, perhaps run over someone on the side of the road or run into another car. I cannot even believe we're having this conversation."

"Can you understand where the judge is coming from?" Weinsier asked Coleman. "He doesn't want to see you get hit and killed."

"Name one case where a wheelchair was hit," answered Coleman.

"Will you stop riding on Broward Boulevard?" said Weinsier.

"Never," Coleman replied.

An attorney said Coleman doesn't have a right to be on the roadway.