Driving ban for taxi driver who used unlicensed vehicle to take pupils to Wisbech school

A TAXI driver who ferried pupils to a Wisbech school in an unlicensed vehicle has been banned from driving for 28 days.

The driver has also been fined �200, ordered to pay �200 costs and a �15 victim surcharge.

Sohail Altaf, 37, of Meynell Walk, Netherton, Peterborough, appeared before Peterborough magistrates yesterday and pleaded guilty to driving without insurance.

The court heard that on at least three occasions in November 2010 Altaf used an unlicensed vehicle to transport pupils to and from a school in Wisbech. As he received payment for the journeys the vehicle should have been licensed and tested as a private hire vehicle and insured accordingly.

The incidents came to light when the mother of one of the pupils contacted the city council to check whether Altaf was allowed to use his own vehicle under the terms of the contract. An investigation carried out by the city council’s taxi enforcement team discovered Altaf had used an unlicensed BMW on at least three occasions to transport pupils to and from school.

In addition to the fine and costs, Altaf also received eight penalty points on his licence. As Altaf had six existing penalty points, the court was required to consider a disqualification from driving. Altaf gave an account of the hardships he would encounter if he lost his licence. Magistrates took this into account, however due to the seriousness of the situation and his behaviour, magistrates felt that a 28 day disqualification was still warranted.

In order to carry out private hire work a driver is required to hold a private hire driver’s licence, any vehicle should also be tested and licensed and all work must have been booked in advance via a licensed private hire operator. As Altaf had used an unlicensed vehicle he invalidated his insurance.

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Ian Robinson, regulatory officer in Peterborough City Council’s taxi enforcement team, said: “Magistrates highlighted that as a professional driver Altaf had a duty of care to his passengers and on this occasion he failed in that duty, allowing a child to be carried without valid insurance.

“Licensing the private hire trade protects the travelling public, ensuring that drivers and operators are subjected to the appropriate security checks and the vehicles tested and checked to insure they are appropriately insured.

“A decision will be made in due course in relation to Mr Altaf’s hackney carriage driver’s licence.”