Internetrecht

Taxi driver rights and the obligation to carry passengers

Can a taxi driver refuse to carry a passenger because the destination is too near? What about a passenger who is drunk? Here is an overview of taxi drivers‘ rights to refuse to carry passengers?

Taxi driver rights and the obligation to carry passengers © ferkelraggae-Fotolia

Taxi driver rights and the obligation to carry passengers © ferkelraggae-Fotolia

Taxi driver obligations

Taxi drivers are obliged to carry passengers under § 13 of the Regulations on the Operation of Businesses for the Transportation of Passengers by Vehicle (BoKraft). The fees a taxi driver may charge are determined at state level and laid down in specific regulations. It is therefore generally the case that taxi drivers cannot refuse to carry passengers.

Taxi driver rights to refuse passengers

However, there are indeed circumstances in which a taxi driver is permitted, and in some cases even obliged, to refuse to carry passengers.

Dangerous items or substances

A taxi driver is legally obliged to refuse to carry a passenger if they are carrying dangerous substances or items. This may include, for example, foul smelling or explosive substances, and items which protrude from the vehicle.

Passengers’ items must be stored in such a way that they do not disturb or endanger fellow passengers.

Similarly, a taxi driver must refuse to carry dangerous animals, such as aggressive dogs, and animals may not be placed on the seats.

Dangerous passengers

If there are concrete indications that a passenger may be a danger to the safety and security of the taxi business or other passengers, the taxi driver is entitled to refuse to carry the passenger. An example is when passengers are drunk and behaving aggressively or antisocially.

A taxi driver is also permitted to refuse to carry a passenger if there are indications that a passenger will refuse to pay, or if the taxi driver is unsure whether the passenger will pay.

Here, for example, a taxi driver may refuse to carry a passenger if they believe the passenger will take too long in finding the money to pay. On the other hand, it would be reasonable for a passenger to ask a taxi driver to take them to a local bank so that they can withdraw money for the journey.

Rules for passengers

During a journey, taxi passengers are obliged to observe certain rules. They must put on their seat belt; they may not listen to loud music on their mobile phones; they may not throw items out of the taxi; and they may not smoke a cigarette. If a passenger does any of these things, the taxi driver is entitled to ask them to exit the vehicle.

Unjustified refusal

If a taxi driver refuses to carry a passenger without having a valid reason for doing so, they will be liable to a fine.

A taxi driver may not, for example, refuse to carry a passenger because the distance of the journey would be too short.

On the contrary, a taxi driver is not obliged to travel outside of their geographical area, i.e. to another city. Yet many taxi drivers may agree to do this, as longer journeys tend to be more profitable.

Choice of taxi

The most important aspect for taxi drivers to remember is that they may not refuse to carry a passenger, purely because the passenger refuses to travel in the taxi which is nearest the front of the taxi rank. In contrast to taxi drivers’ rights, a passenger has a right to choose with whom they travel.

Conclusion

Taxi drivers are under a general obligation to carry passengers and to not refuse requests. There are however a number of exceptions to this general obligation. If a taxi driver refuses to carry a passenger without valid reason, they could face a fine.

Christian Solmecke ist Partner der Kanzlei WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE und inbesondere in den Bereichen des IT-, des Medien- und des Internetrechts tätig. Darüber hinaus ist er Autor zahlreicher juristischer Fachveröffentlichungen in diesen Bereichen.

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