As a driver of a licensed taxi or private hire vehicle, there are a number of legal duties that you have to comply with. If you do not, you may be committing an offence and face a fine of up to £1000.
Part 12, chapter 1 of the Equality Act 2010 says that if a driver of a licensed taxi or private hire vehicle has been hired by either (a) a disabled person who is accompanied by an assistance dog, or (b) by another person who wishes to be accompanied by a disabled person with an assistance dog, that driver is legally required to do the following:
- carry the disabled person’s dog and allow it to remain with that person;
- not make any additional charge for doing so.
Generally the same duties applies to a licensed operator. The law says that an operator of a private hire vehicle commits an offence by failing or refusing to accept a booking for the vehicle:
- if the booking is requested by or on behalf of a disabled person or a person who wishes to be accompanied by a disabled person, and
- the reason for the failure or refusal is that the disabled person will be accompanied by an assistance dog.
What is an assistance dog?
The duties described above does not apply to any dog, it must be an assistance dog (or guide dog). The Equality Act 2010 defines an assistance dog as:
- a dog which has been trained to guide a blind person;
- a dog which has been trained to assist a deaf person;
- a dog which has been trained by a prescribed charity to assist a disabled person who has a disability that consists of epilepsy or otherwise affects the person’s mobility, manual dexterity, physical co-ordination or ability to lift, carry or otherwise move everyday objects;
- a dog of a prescribed category which has been trained to assist a disabled person who has a disability (other than one falling within paragraph (3)) of a prescribed kind.
An assistance dog must be a properly trained dog. Most are instantly recognisable by a harness or jacket. However, be aware that the law does not require the dog to wear a harness or jacket to identify it as an assistance dog.
Some, but not all assistance dog users, will carry an ID book giving information about the assistance dog and the training organisation together with other useful information. Again, this is not a legal requirement.
A driver of a licensed taxi or private hire vehicle can apply to their licensing authority for an exemption of the duties to carry a guide dog.
Exemption certificates can only be issued on medical grounds. The licensing authority will certainly require evidence from a medical professional to confirm a medical diagnosis (such as an allergy for example).
Exemption certificates will not be issued on the grounds of religious believes or “fear” of dogs (unless potentially the phobia has medically diagnosed).
Any driver of a licensed taxi or private hire vehicle can appeal the decision of a licensing authority not to issue an exemption certificate.
Taxi Defence Barristers can act for you in cases where you may be facing losing your licence or a prosecution for an offence under the Equality Act 2010. Call us today for a free initial assessment of your case on 020 7060 4773.