A WIGAN taxi driver caught working for months without a proper licence or insurance is still on the road – despite having 18 points on his licence.
Darren Gallagher, who is now ferrying passengers on buses, was caught after his car crashed into Suzy’s Furniture Store, Pemberton, in May 2013 after he failed to apply the handbrake properly.
He’d been using the vehicle as a private hire taxi despite his licence to do so expiring in December 2012.
The 39-year-old appeared before Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court and pleaded guilty to two offences of using a motor vehicle without insurance and two counts of driving without a private hire driver’s licence.
It emerged that he had already had six points put on his licence last September, again for driving without insurance.
This time he was fined £400 and handed two lots of six points to run concurrently.
But he successfully pleaded “exceptional hardship” so as not to receive the usual automatic ban for reaching 12 points on the licence. It was explained in court that disqualification would lead to the loss of his employment – he is now a bus driver – and home and this would hit his wife and family.
This mitigation was officially recorded because should he commit further infringements that warrant licence points he cannot use the same reasons for continuing driving again.
Julie Middlehurst, Wigan Council’s Trading Standards manager, said: “Criminal proceedings were instigated against Mr Gallagher in that he was driving a private hire vehicle when not licensed by us to do so.
“The penalty that was imposed reflects the seriousness of the matter and it is of course at the court’s discretion as to whether or not Mr Gallagher was disqualified from driving.
“In this particular case the court was satisfied that if he had lost his driving licence he would have suffered exceptional hardship.
“This however does not detract from the fact that he is not licensed to drive a private hire vehicle.”
Gallagher is certainly not on his own in being allowed to carry on driving despite have 12 or more licence points.
DVLA figures released earlier this month showed one man from Liverpool still at the wheel despite racking up 45 points.
Wigan figures on those spared a ban were not available but there are more than 16,000 people living in the borough with points on their licences and 39 banned for having 12 or more.