On July 20, New York City Council Member Dan Garodnick introduced a piece of legislation (Intro. 1662) aimed at increasing the penalties imposed on those found guilty of conducting illegal street hails, illegally poaching fares, and posing as FHV drivers without the proper TLC licensing. The bill resulted from a CBS2 sting operation, conducted by reporter Marcia Kramer at LaGuardia International Airport last year, that showed “fake” FHV drivers holding homemade signs and luring unsuspecting business travelers and tourists into accepting rides in unlicensed and inadequately insured vehicles.
The report uncovered proof that these illegal and dangerous transactions occur literally thousands of times per day, with many of the drivers donning fake branding from well-known Transportation Network Companies (TNCs). These “hustlers” are also known to dramatically overcharge their customers, often targeting travelers from foreign countries, and sometimes forcing them to withdraw money from an ATM if they do not have enough cash to pay the “quoted fare,” which is often renegotiated mid-trip.
The bill introduces new penalty structures for new offenses, and increases the penalties for existing offenses.
For TLC-licensed drivers who use their FHV license to conduct illegal street hails: Currently, fine amounts are $400 for the first offense and $1,000 for the second. Under Intro. 1662, the fines increase to $1,500 and $2,000, respectively. Also, after the second and third violations, the TLC can suspend (and potentially revoke) the driver’s license.
For TLC-licensed drivers who misrepresent themselves, seeking to poach fares from a legally booked trip: This newly-added offense carries a $2,000 penalty for the first offense, $4,000 for the second and $7,000 for the third. The offender’s TLC license is suspended following their second offense, and revoked upon conviction of their third.
For those that DO NOT have a TLC license, but advertise themselves as FHV drivers: This is also a newly-added offense. The first offense carries a $500 fine, the second carries a $1,500 fine and the third would cost $3,000. (After the second and third offenses, if the individual also holds a TLC license, the TLC may suspend and/or revoke it.)
For TLC-licensed drivers who LEND their vehicle to someone without proper licensure: After the second and third offense, the TLC may suspend and/or revoke the licensee’s license. This offense does not carry a financial penalty.
Perhaps the most important part of this proposed bill is the changes made to the process to move to vacate OATH determinations. Currently, respondents can move to vacate their hearing up to two years. Under Intro. 1662, it shortens that period from a maximum of two years, to two months. Also changed would be the requirement to provide meritorious defense, not just to move to vacate the hearing, but also to the violation itself. If granted a move to vacate, the respondent is unable to vacate a second time.
Source: Black Car Assistance Corporation