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The law around cabs and taxis and taxi touting has evolved, with the advent of Uber. Private Hire Vehicles, Hackney carriages and any other form of “taxis” must be properly licensed in order to be legally hired to carry the public. Unlicensed vehicles will be committing a criminal offence if they do any of the following:
(1) “Soliciting” people to hire vehicles to transport them as a passenger, in a public place, or
(2) Displaying the word “taxi”, “cab” or “hire” anywhere on their vehicle
This applies equally to many classes of vehicles such as cars, vans and even so called “pedicabs” or rickshaws.
Registered private hire vehicles are not permitted to collect fee paying passengers from the street unless these vehicles are displaying an appropriate private hire sign and they have been booked for use through a licensed operator prior to undertaking the hired journey. Hackney carriages are however permitted to collect passengers from a public place without the need for a prior booking as they have special dispensation.
If you have been accused of plying for hire or touting as it is called, not only will you face a possible Level 4 fine, which could be anything up to £2500, you may also face prosecution for driving without insurance as ‘touting’ often invalidates your existing motor insurance policy. The offence of driving without insurance carries a penalty of between 6 – 8 points. The court could also disqualify you from driving for any period they deem appropriate, or may be required to as part of “totting up”. Accordingly you should take this seriously.
If you have been charged with a touting offence then the court will consider the circumstances and interpret the facts in order to determine whether your actions amount to touting, soliciting or plying for hire.
How to avoid a conviction
Driving disqualifications as a result of touting/soliciting are becoming more and more frequent, particularly in circumstances where a person has appeared at court unrepresented. The key thing to do is take specialist advice and protect yourself from the potentially very serious consequences. The consequences of a conviction for touting/soliciting can quite often be very severe for those who drive taxis or private hire vehicles for a living, and affect their livelihood with inevitable knock on consequences, and could cause problems when it comes to continuing your employment as a taxi or hackney carriage driver. It could also affect any future application for the renewal of your taxi licence. We have experience of dealing with the licensing authorities in circumstances where, as a taxi driver, your livelihood is at risk.
The best thing to do is a brief experts to make a full and proper consideration of the evidence, and to ensure that your case is presented to the court in the most advantageous way. Our involvement could help save your livelihood.