SWNS_UBER_BLIND_01.JPG Image by: Colin Perreira

A blind man has successfully prosecuted a fifth cab driver for refusing to give a ride to his guide dog.

Colin Perreira filmed his latest rejection on his smartphone as he ordered the Uber to pick him up at Watford Junction station last summer.

Driver Mohammed Hafiz Raja would not allow the highly trained guide dog into his car and drove off – after the partially-sighted 24-year-old warned he was breaking the law.

In the video, Colin walked up to the blue BMW with his six-year-old guide dog named Sid, who helps him to cross roads and climb steps on trips out.

As soon as the driver saw Colin, he said: “I’m going to pass you to another driver. I ain’t going to take your dog.”

When Colin questioned the driver, he said: “It’s my car mate.”

Responding, Colin said: “It might be your car, but you sign up to a specific agreement with Uber. The law states you are not allowed to refuse a guide dog.”

The driver insisted he has “the power to” refuse to take him and then drives off, leaving Colin and Sid standing on the pavement on June 27 last year without a ride to his father’s house in Kings Langley, Herts.

Raja, of Watford, Herts, was convicted at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on February 13 .

He was ordered to pay more than £1700 in costs and banned from offering rides on Uber.

This is the fifth time Colin has taken this type of case to court, and he has won every time.

Commenting on the latest ordeal, he said: “What angered me most this time is the driver was so blatant in his refusal. Sometimes, drivers give medical or religious reasons.

“But this was the most blatant refusal I’d ever had. He didn’t have a reason. I told him I’d report him and he said he didn’t want a dog in his car.”

Colin explained that many Muslim drivers have refused to give a ride to his guide dog.

SWNS_UBER_BLIND_05.jpgImage by: Colin PerreiraSWNS_UBER_BLIND_03.jpgImage by: Colin Perreira

He said: “Most Uber drivers I come across are muslim drivers. Many Muslims seem to think dogs are unclean. It’s against their religion.

“They don’t seem to understand that UK law, under the Equality Act 2010 doesn’t protect them from refusing rides on religious grounds.”

He added: “Other drivers have said they are allergic to dogs, but they must have a valid medical exemption certificate. One driver said he was going to pull over to show me his certificate, and then just drove off.”

Colin said the four previous prosecutions also involved Uber drivers, but has defended his continued use of the app, after he said he social media users had criticised him.

He said: “It’s convenient, cashless and cheap. It makes my life much easier because I don’t have to mess around with coins. Ubers are always around the corner.

“It normally takes about five minutes, compared to 30 minutes for a taxi. Why should I have to stop using the app, because of the way I am treated?”

Colin, of Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, said it is important to prosecute to defend disabled people.

He said: “I feel like I am standing up for the disabled people and guide dog owners. I want to show that we won’t tolerate this behaviour and that we will stand up to it.

“My message to drivers who refuse to take my guide dog is that I will not tolerate it. I will prosecute. I am not in the business of getting people to lose their jobs, I’m doing it to raise awareness. I have to stand up for members of the blind community.”

Colin, who said he has been refused more than 20 rides, said he is now used to being rejected, but is concerned about the emotional impact it can have on others.

He said: “I don’t take being refused a ride personally, although it does really anger me and confuse me that people don’t seem to understand what a guide dog is.

“I take action because it can have a long-lasting impact if it happens to others. It could stop them from leaving the house.”

Colin added he was grateful for the action taken by Uber and Transport for London but said the ride-hailing company could be more “proactive” to prevent incidents like this instead of reacting to them when they happen.

A spokesman for Uber said: “It is totally unacceptable for drivers to refuse to take a guide dog and we investigate every report.

“Any driver who is found to have refused to take a service animal will permanently lose access to the app.”

Video by: Gabriella Petty

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