Our client was an Uber driver with his own car. He also had a traffic authority and had been accredited through studies.
Late at night he picked up two passengers, upon them entering he turned to check if they had their seatbelts on. He asked them “do you have seatbelts?” and received an affirmative answer.
Later he was then stopped for a random breath test. Upon being stopped the police saw the passengers without their seatbelts on, because of this our client was fined and received 6 demerit points.
The two passengers then failed to keep their seatbelts on a further time and our client asked for them to get out of the vehicle. During court three points were argued:
The first was a legal issue about whether, as an Uber driver, he fell within the definition of a taxi driver at the time (this was before the recent legislation about ride sharing businesses, which formally legalised UBER).
The second was whether he had an argument about an honest and reasonable mistake of fact about his status as a private hire vehicle, and if so genuinely believed that it made him exempt from ensuring passengers above the age 16 have their seatbelts on.
The third, which was ultimately what won our client’s case, was whether he made an honest and reasonable mistake – that the two passengers had continued to wear their seatbelts.
The court found that he was a credible witness and had checked to see if the passengers had their seatbelts on when they came into the car and, because of the short journey before he was stopped, he had made an honest and reasonable mistake of fact – being that his passengers continued to wear their seatbelts once they had put them on.
The Court did not find that our client, at the time he was stopped, fell within the meaning of the act for a private hire vehicle, as a private hire vehicle would need to be licenced with the RMS as a private hire vehicle. Our client was using his own car.
This was an excellent result for our client.