The Department of the Environment’s (the Department)
is proposing to introduce a suite of fixed penalties for offences related to the current taxi driver licensing regime and the forthcoming regulations governing taxi licensing, taximeters and the maximum fare.
Many of these fixed penalties are not new but, rather, replace those that currently exist under the regulations made under the Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 (although we propose that
the levels increase). In addition to the current suite of penalties under the Taxis Act, the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) and the Police Service for Northern Ireland will have the discretion to offer someone who has committed an offence a fixed penalty rather than referring the offender to the Public Prosecution Service for court action.
The Department considers that the current levels for many of these fixed penalties are disproportionately low compared to fixed penalties in other areas. For instance, for littering or dog-fouling the Fixed Penalty level is £80. Transport sectors such as heavy goods vehicles also have higher fixed penalties in place: for example, the Fixed Penalty for using a driver card for which the driver is not the holder is £200; in comparison, the Fixed Penalty for driving a taxi without a taxi driver licence is currently £60.
The current levels risk some offences being perceived as trivial and inconsequential as the penalty levels are so low. This is certainly not the Department’s view or intention, hence the review of the penalties.