Private hire driver claimed “financial hardship” caused him to illegally ply for hire

Updated: Feb 14, 2020

Chester Magistrates' Court has heard how a licensed private hire driver broke the law by accepting an immediate booking in his private hire vehicle. Mohamed Darda, (44), of Ellesmere Port, attended Chester Magistrates' Court and pleaded guilty to all charges.  

He was fined £261 and received six penalty points for invalidating his insurance. He was also ordered to pay £85 costs and a victim surcharge of £32. Only licensed hackney vehicles can accept an immediate booking by either being hailed in the street or by working from a rank.

Private hire vehicles cannot work in the same way and can only accept a booking through their licensed private hire operator. In a private hire vehicle, the driver cannot pick-up passengers without a prior booking (called plying for hire), this is illegal and also invalidates any insurance in place. The Council’s Licensing Team launched an investigation following a report that on the evening of Saturday 27 July, 2019 on Egerton Street, Chester, Mr Darda had picked up two members of the public off the street in his Toyota Avensis and had then transported them to Daresbury.

It was later found that there was no prior booking in place when checks were made with his private hire operator. Mr Darda was represented by Mr Peter Grogan. The court heard how Mr Darda initially lied when being interviewed.

His solicitor, in mitigation, stated that at first he was not illegally waiting – he had dropped off a customer.

He ‘faced temptation’ on account of financial hardship and was now deeply ashamed, being the sole bread winner and on low income after expenses.

He asked that the minimum points be imposed (six) and a modest penalty. The Council’s General Licensing Sub-Committee will now review the licence held by Mr Darda. Councillor Karen Shore, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport, said: “Regulations are there to ensure the safety and welfare of the travelling public who use licensed vehicles. It is essential that all operators, vehicles and drivers are properly licensed and operate within the law. "I hope this case will act as a deterrent to others who might be tempted to make poor choices and put passengers or other road users at risk by breaking the law.”

Image credit: Pixabay

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