Taxi Driver Fined After Claiming Guide Dog “Against His Religion”

by Leanne Thompson on November 12, 2008

A taxi driver that said that he could not allow a blind man into his cab with his guide dog because it was against his religion has been fined £300.

The driver, Ali Raza Roshanmoniri of Bramcote, arrived to pick up partially sighted Christopher Odell from the school in Nottinghamshire where he works as a counsellor on 27th August.

Roshanmoniri said he could not take Odell as a passenger with his dog because it was against his religion and eventually the Beeston-based cab company, Cable Cars, sent a replacement driver for Odell.

However, the very next day Roshanmoniri presented the council’s taxi license authority with a letter from his GP stating that he was allergic to dog hair and that he did not know he needed an exemption certificate to allow him to refuse guide dogs.

Guide dogs provide a valuable service and according to the rules of the law, taxi drivers are unable to refuse to allow an assistance dog, such as a guide dog or a hearing dog, into their cab except on the grounds of their health.

The school that had ordered Odell the taxi lodged a complaint with the local council, Broxtowe Borough Council, who prosecuted Roshanmoniri on Monday 10th November for breaking his operational taxi license. Roshanmoniri was fined £300 and ordered to pay costs of £150 for breaking the Disability Discrimination Act, as well as a £15 victim fee.

According to the council, Roshanmoniri submitted his guilty plea by post and has since applied for an exemption from carrying guide dogs in his taxi.

John Cunliffe, representing the council, told Nottingham Magistrates Court: “Most of the operators are aware that Mr Odell is blind and accompanied by his guide dog. On seeing Mr Odell’s guide dog he said it was against his religion to carry dogs in his vehicle. It was explained to him that the dog was a working dog and could not be refused carriage.”

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