By Michael Spevack

This month, I want to talk about what is perhaps the most important TLC rule of all: 35 RCNY, section 68-20, titled special procedures: settlements and withdrawals. Title 35 of the rules of the City of New York concerns the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) – and section 68-20, or rule 68-20, is the topic of this column.

Why is this the most important TLC rule for TLC licensees? In 68-20, subsection “(2)” provides that a settlement agreement between a driver respondent and the petitioner (aka the TLC) may “provide for penalties different than the penalties provided for in these Rules.”

This means that a lawyer or a rep, or even a driver, may negotiate a settlement with TLC that is less harmful than a guilty finding or plea might otherwise be. In order for a TLC prosecutor and respondent driver (or his or her lawyer or rep) to agree to a less painful settlement for a driver, that settlement must be put into writing (see 35 RCNY§ 68-20(1)). By signing it (which means entering into the settlement), both the TLC and driver waive their rights to future hearings or appeals regarding the summons or notice of violation.

A common example of a less painful settlement for a driver would be one that has fewer or no TLC points, and perhaps a lower fine than if the driver had lost a hearing over a TLC ticket.

Why would TLC agree to a reduced penalty under Rule 68-20 in some instances? Well, finality and judicial economy and interests of justice are a few reasons.  A settlement is final. There are no appeals or court challenges after a settlement is entered into by the parties.

Judicial economy means the court or tribunal does not have to expend resources and man-hours providing further due process to a driver who was issued a summons. Inspectors and police officers will be in the field rather than in the court. Lastly, TLC prosecutors believe that justice will be served (i.e., that the driver has learned from the experience not to speed etc.), and that that drivers can be warned and not punished as harshly as per rule for certain policy reasons.

A settlement can be made before or after a hearing default or otherwise. See 35 RCNY § 68-20(3). It is important to note that pursuant to subsection “(5)” of 68-20, “[u]nless the settlement agreement explicitly provides otherwise, the License of a Respondent who does not comply with the terms of the settlement agreement may be suspended by the Chairperson without a hearing until the Respondent complies with the settlement agreement.”

In most cases, this means that unless a driver pays his or her fine in a timely manner, the TLC will suspend his or her license until the fine is paid.

Settlements are an important tool for drivers to use in dealing with TLC tickets. If you have any questions, please contact a qualified lawyer or representative.

Article by Black Car News

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