Taxi / touting offences
If you are looking for expert advice about a taxi touting prosecution, you are probably not onl;y terrified about the consequences for your driving licence but also your livelihood. Some of the more common questions we hear from drivers facing a touting prosecution are set out below:
I am a private hire driver. Some people came up to me in the street and asked me to take them to Kings Cross. Now I have to go to the Magistrates’ Court on a charge of taxi touting or soliciting for hire.
The law says that it is an offence “in a public place, to solicit persons to hire vehicles to carry them as passengers”. The important thing here is that the police or the inspectors have to show that it is you that was doing the soliciting. If someone approaches you first then quite often you are doing nothing wrong.
If you are sure of your innocence then take the case to trial. The trial will take place in the Magistrates’ Court and the prosecutor will have to prove that you were guilty. If he can’t do that then you will not be convicted.
When we defend these cases our lawyers often rely on a legal decision made by the High Court in 2003. Successful legal argument showing the magistrates that the law is on our side is vital in securing an acquittal.
I was convicted/cautioned for something minor. I didn’t tell the Public Carriage Office and now they want to take my taxi licence away.
The worst thing that you can do is not inform the Public Carriage Office or the Local Authority about a conviction or a caution. They often take much more severe actions against drivers who do not tell them what has happened. It is usually a condition of your licence to tell them about any criminal cases no matter how minor. In London failing to mention a new conviction or cautions means you will almost certainly have your private hire licence taken away for 12 months.
Many convictions or cautions lead to automatic loss of your taxi licence. This is not always the case. There a number of minor situations that will mean that you can stay on the road.
I have been sent to court for taxi touting. They have also charged me with no insurance but I am fully insured. Can they do that?
If you are convicted of taxi touting when you were actually using your vehicle then your insurance will probably be invalidated as well. You could receive 6-8 penalty points and a maximum fine of £5000 for the offence of driving without insurance. For most people the only way to avoid the points is to challenge the taxi touting charge. If you are found not guilty then the no insurance charge goes away too.
I have had my taxi licence taken from me, what can I do?
Most decisions of the licensing authority can be appealed to the local Magistrates’ Court. The magistrates will review the decision and decide whether to overturn it. Give us a call so we can explain how being represented by one of our lawyers can make a difference to the outcome of the hearing.
I accepted a caution from the police for taxi touting. Now the Local Authority want to take my licence away.
Accepting a caution for soliciting or plying for hire often seems like a quick and easy way to get out of the police station. Unfortunately that’s not an end to it. The police will tell the Local Authority and they may well take your taxi badge away. In plenty of areas of the country for a first offence you will keep your licence. In London there is a zero tolerance approach. A single caution will mean that you are off the road. The magistrates almost always uphold the decision if it goes to appeal.
If you do not agree that the caution is correct then you can apply to the police for it to be removed. They have a discretion to cancel the caution. If they agree to do so then you will have the opportunity to take the case to trial at the magistrates’ court.
What Is Taxi Touting?
Taxis, cabs and Hackneys are all vehicles which can be legally hired to carry passengers.
It is a criminal offence for other vehicles to display the word “taxi”, “cab” or “hire” or to solicit people in a public place to hire vehicles to carry them as passengers. The law does not specify a list of vehicles this applies to and It can range from a car, to a van or even to a cycle pulled buggy. This of course excludes registered Taxi cabs that display a private hire sign as long as they are booked prior to undertaking the hired journey privately through their operators.
It is also worth noting that unlawfully "touting" in this way may invalidate any insurance policy that is in place and result in a further charge of driving without insurance being brought (carrying 6-8 penalty points.)
If charged with a touting offence then the facts of the case will be reviewed and it is the court’s interpretation of the defendant’s actions that would lead to either an acquittal or conviction.
Over recent years we have seen more and more attempts, by the Metropolitan Police in particular, to clamp down on touting. The Transport For London website explains that the primary concern for police is improving safety as they consider true taxi touts to often be engaged in more serious crime. In many cases, taxi touting clamp downs have involved police operations with officers working under cover, sometimes pretending to be lone females, pretending to be drunk or in distress. As unfair as it may seem, in such circumstances, private hire cabbies who have merely answered the question of, " how much to xyz?" with a price, can face a life changing prosecution for taxi touting.
What we can do to help
We have successfully defended drivers against touting prosecutions and persuaded the court that what our clients did could not amount to soliciting/touting by considering all of the evidence. Whilst the penalty for a taxi touting offence is financial only, a prosecution for taxi touting is often also combined with a no insurance prosecution and could spell the end of a private hire driver's ability to earn a living.
Take a look at Harish's testimonial. He was successful in his appeal of a conviction when we got involved to help. You can even get in touch with Harish directly through our unique "Ref me" scheme and ask him about his experience of using the country's premier firm of motoring lawyers.
A person charged and convicted of this offence is liable to a Level 4 fine which is anything up to £2500.
Not Sure What to Do?
Most people who get in touch with our team of motor offence expert solicitors are uncertain of their options. They are unaware of any legal defences that may be available and find it difficult to believe that it might be possible to defend the motoring offence charge they face by using loopholes that apply to the rich and famous! We do represent celebrities but we also represent many hardworking motorists like Brian and we want to help you make the right choice about what you do next.
We are always more than happy to chat things through with potential clients Free of Charge. Call us now on Freephone 0800 085 2784 to speak to one of our specialist motoring offence solicitors. It is only once you decide to instruct us that payment will become necessary and we can often arrange instalment plans to assist you. Many satisfied clients have thanked us for offering this free consultation service as it has prevented them from following inaccurate non-expert advice which could have led to them accepting a driving ban unnecessarily.
If you would like to spend more time browsing on the site before you get in touch, make sure you have a look at our specialist motor offence guidance features such as our penalty calculator which will help you to determine the penalty you may face if convicted and our money saving calculator which helps to outline some of the hidden costs of accepting a conviction.
We think we are simply the best in the business but if you are not satisfied in taking our word for it, our unique “ref me” testimonials scheme allows you to contact previous clients of the firm to seek a completely independent reference about us and what we might be able to do for you.