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Council right to revoke driver’s licence following pattern of dangerous driving Published Date: 20/11/2023

East Suffolk Council has successfully defended its decision to revoke the hackney carriage and private hire driver’s licences of a driver who had committed two minor traffic offences within a year of being relicensed following a serious crash.

In October 2019, the Appellant had been driving four passengers from Lowestoft to Yarmouth when, at just after midnight, his vehicle collided with another hackney carriage that was emerging from a junction. One passenger suffered a serious head injury and the driver of the other vehicle was knocked unconscious. The Appellant himself suffered minor head, neck and chest injuries.

An investigation by East Suffolk Council (carried out by a retired police traffic officer) concluded that the Appellant was significantly at fault, by driving in excess of the speed limit and being distracted by using his PDA while behind the wheel. He had previously received two endorsements for speeding offences and a written warning for driving while distracted.

Following that incident, the Appellant’s hackney carriage and private hire driver’s licences were suspended until they were due to expire a few months later. The driver was not prosecuted for any offence arising from the collision.

In September 2022, the Appellant was granted new licences, having successfully completed the Council’s pre-application checks. However, in March 2023, he received a notice of intended prosecution after being stopped by a police officer while using a food delivery app on his mobile phone, which had been mounted on the dashboard. A few months later, in July 2023, he was given a further notice of intended prosecution having been caught breaking the speed limit. The Appellant undertook driving safety courses on both occasions.

The incident in March 2023 triggered a referral of his licences to the Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee. Their decision was to revoke the Appellant’s licences, noting they were “deeply concerned by his previous driving history … [and his] attitude to road safety”.

The Appellant appealed and his appeal was heard by Ipswich Magistrates’ Court on 1 November 2023. The Council was represented by Matt Lewin, a member of Cornerstone Barristers’ Licensing team.

The appeal was dismissed.

Although aware that the two most recent incidents were fairly minor, the court found that, taken together, the evidence showed “a pattern of behaviour of driving and compliance that falls below what we would expect of a professional driver.”  Therefore, the court concluded, the Council had been correct to revoke the Appellant’s licences, meaning the appeal was dismissed with costs.