Police are warning users of illegal taxis in Dunedin, after a
motorist offering rides on the popular Facebook site was
revealed as a disqualified driver.
The Facebook page ''Dunedin Sober Drivers'' has attracted
1900 users and also the attention of police concerned about
the safety of passengers and other motorists.
On Friday night, police identified one of the ''taxi''
drivers as disqualified when a patrol pulled over the car
just after midnight.
The motorist, who was carrying no passengers when stopped by
police, has now had their car impounded for 28 days, and is
expected to appear in the Dunedin District Court tomorrow.
Sergeant Andrew Savage, of the commercial vehicle
investigation unit, made no apologies for the crackdown, as
both police and the New Zealand Transport Agency had concerns
over illegal taxis.
Checks on the Facebook page revealed some of the drivers had
only restricted licences, with one having two drink-driving
While authorities supported the use of sober drivers by known
support groups and cost-sharing among friends, an unlicensed
service was not only illegal but potentially harmful, he
said,He was particularly concerned that some drivers were
offering ''fast'' rides to Mosgiel, and that passengers had
no idea of the safety of the transport or the people they
were riding with.
Both police and the NZTA endorsed having sober drivers with
known support groups and cost-sharing among friends, but
stressed that picking up passengers for hire was illegal,
without the correct passenger endorsement.
However, users of the service told the Otago Daily
Times they would continue to drive passengers, or request
rides, as it was cheaper than a taxi.
''I have used it a couple of times and it has always been
''Taxis are expensive and not always available,'' a
22-year-old woman said.
However, Sgt Savage said taxis and their drivers underwent
checks designed to protect the public, and featured cameras
designed to protect the public and driver alike.
Unlicensed taxis offered no such assurances, and police were
concerned about females potentially being put in dangerous
situations, he said.
A person found operating an unlicensed passenger transport
service could face a fine up to $10,000 for a first offence,
with a second offence costing up to $20,000.