Dozens of motorists offering illegal taxi rides, including
those who touted for business at taxi ranks, have received
official warnings from Dunedin police.
Police have visited 46 of the 60 drivers identified as
illegally offering cheap taxi rides via social media. The
drivers received official warnings.
Many claimed they were unaware they were breaking the law,
Dunedin road policing manager Senior Sergeant Phil McDouall
The Facebook page, ''Dunedin Sober Drivers'', had nearly 2500
members, and detailed those wanting or offering rides to and
A 21-year-old female, who regularly used the service, told
the Otago Daily Times members provided a safe and
cheap alternative to taxis, which were expensive and not
readily available in the early hours.
''They do this in other places. I just don't see what the
Some of those same members were now discussing ways to beat
However, Snr Sgt McDouall had a warning for any potential
''Be sensible and don't break the law. The potential
penalties far exceed the gain.''
Under the Land Transport Act (1998) it was illegal to offer
passenger or taxi services for ''hire or reward'', unless the
operator had the appropriate licence to carry passengers.
That was to guarantee the safety of the travelling public, so
they could be confident the person driving them home had
undergone background checks to ensure they were fit to carry
''Those drivers and passengers spoken to can consider that
they have been put on notice, and that enforcement agencies
will not be so tolerant next time around,'' Snr Sgt McDouall
''Anyone considering offering such a service to make a 'quick
buck' without the proper certification should also think
Penalties include a fine up to $10,000 for a first offence
and up to $25,000 for a second conviction. Vehicles can also
Police had safety concerns for vulnerable passengers,
including young women and those under the influence of
alcohol who might be getting into vehicles with people they
didn't know, he said.
The ongoing investigation involving police and the New
Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) comes after concerns were
raised by Dunedin taxi drivers.
Snr Sgt McDouall said in addition to using the Facebook page,
some drivers were openly touting for business at city taxi
NZTA southern region access and use manager Kieran Turner
said passengers should always choose a reputable service.
''The licensing rules for this industry are in place to
ensure the safety and security of passengers who use these
A joint police and NZTA operation recently targeted illegal
taxi drivers and street racing. Snr Sgt McDouall said ''a
number of unsafe and illegal vehicles'' were taken off the
road as a result of the operation.
A car was found to have its suspension springs cut and was
pink-stickered for illegal modifications.
Two vans were also taken off the road, including a van
carrying unsecured passengers sitting on a couch in the rear