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Former taxi driver pays price for driving without licence Published Date: 10/07/2023

A former taxi driver has been ordered to pay nearly £2,000 after driving a hackney carriage without a valid driver’s licence. 

Besnik Laci, 55, of Hagley Road, Reading, was prosecuted by South Oxfordshire District Council and appeared at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on Friday 16 June and pleaded guilty to driving without a licence and failing to return his taxi badge. 

The court heard how Mr Laci’s licence had been suspended with immediate effect on 30 November 2022 as he’d failed to sign up to the DBS Update Service, which was a breach of a licence condition. 

He had been clearly told by letter that he was not to drive any vehicle licensed by the council as a hackney carriage until or unless his driver’s licence was re-instated once a new enhanced criminal record check was received.  

The court was told the requirement to sign up to the DBS Update Service was well publicised and it was a licensing condition that was printed on the back of his paper licence given to him in April 2022.   

Furthermore, there is a step-by-step guide on the council’s website and application form which Mr Laci had completed in February 2022. 

The court heard that despite the contents of the suspension letter, Mr Laci attended the council offices in a licensed hackney carriage, with his suspension letter in hand and refused to hand over his badge. 

Magistrates were told that information was gathered that showed that Mr Laci continued to work for Grosvenor Chauffeur Cars Limited, having had 160 jobs allocated to him between 5 December and 15 December 2022. His licensed vehicle, for which he was the sole insured driver,  was captured by number plate recognition cameras clearly showing a taxi plate on 18 and 21 December 2022 and 1 January 2023. 

The court heard that Mr Laci was an experienced licensed taxi driver and would have been well aware of the requirement for himself to be licensed to be able to drive a licensed hackney carriage.   

In mitigation, Mr Laci told the court that it was a misunderstanding. He said he had been licensed with the council for 16 years but that processes had changed.  He added he wasn’t against the rules, but he didn’t understand everything that was in the letter, and he didn’t realise that he was going to end up in court. He advised the court that he was no longer working as a taxi driver and hadn’t been for three months. 

In sentencing, magistrates imposed a fine of £440 for being an unlicensed driver, £292 for failure to return badge or taxi plate and imposed a victim surcharge of £293.  Mr Laci was also ordered to pay a contribution towards prosecution costs of £782, making his total to pay £1807. 

Cllr David Rouane, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said:

“We want people to be confident that drivers and vehicles are properly licensed and deemed ‘fit and proper’, to ensure that their journeys are safe and insured.  

“Prosecutions such as this one are important to keep that confidence and should act as a reminder to other drivers to make sure they are complying with the law and their licence conditions.” 

“With events such as Henley Regatta coming up, we would remind members of the public to check that the vehicle has a valid licence plate and the driver is wearing a valid badge.”