Hello everybody… This month, I want to talk about TLC appeals of a hearing where a driver or owner prevails and wins a dismissal of charges. Often, a respondent driver or owner will prevail at a hearing only to have TLC appeal the dismissal to the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) appeals unit. TLC often prevails with the OATH appeals unit and the dismissal is reversed – and points, penalty and fines are assessed against those who previously “won” the case. Having victory snatched away after a seeming “win” can be extremely frustrating, costly and unnerving to respondent drivers and/or owners.
What is the legal rule upon which TLC gets authority to appeal its cases? Is this legal or a deprivation of due process? First, let me say at the outset that TLC does NOT have jurisdiction to prosecute criminal matters, so its authority is purely non-criminal or civil. That means a TLC prosecutor cannot put you in jail for speeding or stop sign ticket violations, or even overcharging a passenger or an act of fraud against the TLC or customer. TLC may refer a matter to the district attorney’s office to prosecute a criminal case, but such activities are rare, and it is not in TLC’s authority to deprive anyone of their liberty (that is, put them in jail).
Generally, your rights attach in a criminal context, although you do have a property right in your TLC operator or diamond or medallion, which requires a level of due process before it is taken from you. So, what level of due process is available to a TLC operator or owner when fines or their license is at stake with TLC?
OATH is the court where TLC prosecutes its cases. OATH rules are found at title 48 of the Rules of the City of New York. Rule section 6-19 concerns appeals, and (a)(1) provides that “[a] party may appeal a decision of a Hearing Officer in whole or in part.” 48 RCNY section 6-19(a)(1) allows TLC to appeal a case against a driver or owner. Frustrating, for sure – but TLC has the proper authority to appeal and frequently does so when its prosecutors feel a ruling defies TLC rules.
Next month, I will discuss appeal unit decisions from OATH that illustrate just how difficult it can be to prevail at a TLC/OATH hearing. Thank you for reading my article. Until next month, be well.