How charging your mates for lifts could land you with £2,500 fine

Getting your friends to chip in a few quid for giving them a ride somewhere is not uncommon – but it could get you into serious trouble.

That’s because any driver who makes a profit from passenger payments could be considered an unlicensed taxi, which could see them fined as much as £2,500.

There’s an important distinction to make if you want to stay on the right side of the law.

Accepting money to cover petrol is not illegal, but the problem arises if you take more cash than you spend on fuel.

Drivers aren’t allowed to make a profit from lifts unless they have a valid taxi or private hire licence – which lots of us don’t.

As well as getting slapped with a hefty fine, drivers making extra dough from giving their friends lifts could have their insurance invalidated, points on their licence or even be disqualified.

For most of us, getting our mates to chip in a bit won’t result in a problem, as long as we stick to these rules.

Although it’s tricky for the police to find out if you do ask your pals for a few extra quid, people using ride sharing groups on social media should make sure they’re on the right side of the law.

Earlier this year, Dorset Police investigated the Bournemouth and Poole Town Lifts group on Facebook after reports as many as 5,000 people were involved in the illegal lift sharing service.

A spokesperson for Dorset Police told The Bournemouth Echo: "We are aware of several Facebook groups which have been created in order to share lifts in and around the Bournemouth and Poole area.

"When getting into a vehicle with an unlicensed and unvetted stranger, you have no knowledge of their background and risk your own personal safety.

"Before offering a lift in exchange for money, you should speak to your insurance company as this could invalidate your insurance and may result in your vehicle being seized by police, a fixed penalty or prosecution resulting in a fine, points on your licence or disqualification from driving."

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