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Learner drivers warned to check instructor's qualifications

Learner drivers are being warned to ensure their instructors are properly certified after one unqualified man was discovered touting for business on a social website.

The man promised a 100 per cent pass rate for students who paid him for driving lessons, and says he did not know he was doing anything wrong.

Abbas Shajar, an IT consultant living in Mt Roskill, told Gumtree website users he could make sure they passed their driving test if they paid him $100.


He said he could make that promise as he would provide two lessons on "tips and tricks", including the route for the test and point out the different speed limits in different parts of the city.

But when confronted by the Herald on Sunday, he admitted he did not know the route and held only a full New Zealand driver's licence.

New Zealand Transport Agency spokesman Andy Knackstedt said anyone offering driving lessons for financial gain must have a driving instructor endorsement on their licence.

Twenty-nine-year-old Shajar, who moved to New Zealand 18 months ago, said he did not know he needed an endorsement.

No one had called him about his Gumtree ad, which was placed three months ago, and he removed it on Friday.

"I put it on Gumtree because it's social, we're going on there and [offering lessons] in maths and language. If I wanted to do a really illegal thing I wouldn't put it up there. I swear to God that I was never intentionally doing something illegal ... I'm sorry."

He was worried he would lose his year-long working visa because of the ad, he said.

However, Shajar maintained he had the skills to teach others to drive and had done so for money in other countries, including Pakistan, China and Germany.

Agency Auckland spokesman Ewart Barnsley said two people had been prosecuted in the city in the past two years for offering driving lessons for commercial gain without holding an endorsement.

Both were fined about $250, but a maximum fine of $1000 could be imposed, Barnsley said. Anyone applying for a driving instructor endorsement must have had a full New Zealand driver's licence of the class they want to teach for at least two years. They must also do a driving instructor course and pass driving, background and criminal checks.

Road rules

To get paid to teach people how to drive, a person must have a driving instructor endorsement on their driver's licence - an I endorsement.

Instructors need an I endorsement for each class of driver licence they want to teach. They need an I(1) endorsement to teach people how to drive light motor vehicles (Class 1 driver licence), or an I(6) endorsement to teach people how to ride motorcycles (Class 6 driver licence).

Before applying for an I endorsement, a person must have held a full New Zealand driver's licence of the classes they want to teach for at least two years.

They also must:

Pass an approved driving instructor course

Complete and submit an application form

Prove their eyesight meets the required standard

Sit and pass a practical driving test

Pay an application, vetting and practical driving test fees

They may also need to provide a medical certificate.

Another criteria is to pass a "fit and proper person" check, carried out by the NZTA whenever it receives an instructor application.

Some of the factors which may be taken into account are: criminal convictions, including any charges or convictions relating to violent or sexual offences; drug or firearm offences; or offences involving organised criminal activity; transport-related offences, especially relating to safety; history of behavioural problems; past complaints about a transport service operated; history of persistent failure to pay fines for transport-related offences.

Other information in the interests of public safety can also be taken into account.

- Source: NZTA