21 taximen did not have valid driving licence
TWENTY-ONE taxi drivers were prosecuted for not having a valid driving licence last year.
The National Transport Authority (NTA), which regulates the taxi industry, also prosecuted 16 drivers last year for not having a properly-licenced taxi.
Six drivers were prosecuted for having neither a driving licence nor a vehicle licence.
Hugh Creegan, deputy chief executive of the authority, told the Herald today that there are 29,457 taxi drivers in the State.
"The NTA is satisfied that the vast majority of them are correctly licenced and they are providing an excellent service.
"A very small number of drivers who are operating without a licence or without a validly-licensed vehicle are being actively pursued and prosecuted by the NTA," he said.
In the past five years, 104 drivers have been prosecuted for having no valid driving licence. Some 86 were prosecuted for not having a licenced vehicle in the same period.
And 20 drivers over the past five years have been prosecuted for neither having a driving licence nor a vehicle licence.
Mr Creegan said courts can impose a maximum fine of €5,000 for those convicted of either licencing offence.
The number of complaints against taxi drivers that were received by the NTA has risen steadily over the past four years.
In 2011 there were 346 complaints; in 2012 there were 377 complaints, and then in 2013 they rose dramatically to 742. Last year, the number of complaints reached 952.
Almost half of the complaints last year related to driver behaviour. One-third of complaints were about fare charging.
One in eight complaints related to hiring and booking taxis and one in 20 complaints concerned the bad condition of taxis.