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Bureaucrats Gone Wild
NY's War on Uber Sweeps Up Innocent Drivers

New York City may be so intent on stomping out new taxi services that innocent city dwellers are getting caught in the crossfire. According to DNAinfo, over the past year employees of New York’s Taxi and Limousine Commission have been seizing cars that they believed were being used as part of an illegal taxi service. Here’s just one example DNAinfo highlights, in which a New Yorker named Kareeal Akins was pulled over and his car taken on suspicion of offering cab rides:

The inspectors separated Kareeal and Natalie. They accused him of being an unlicensed hack. They asked Natalie whether she was a paying passenger and, if not, to prove how she knew him.

“She told them my name, address, Social Security number,” Kareeal, a Barclays Center security guard, recalled. “They didn’t want to hear it. They still took the vehicle.”

The inspectors seized Kareeal’s car and issued him a summons for being an unlicensed cabbie. Stranded, Akins made the hour-and-a-half walk back to Sheepshead Bay as temperatures hovered in the low teens.

DNAinfo looked at the publicly available records of New York’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings and found 7,187 cases in 2013 that came before a tribunal. Of these, 1,442 were dismissed, some because the defendant was simply driving a family member around.

The context for this crackdown is, in part, the growing official and guild-based antagonism towards companies like Uber and Lyft. NYC officials are now on record stating that Lyft cars operating without city permission will be seized. The fact that this crackdown is spilling over to deprive ordinary citizens of their cars is typical behavior for a bureaucracy that cares more about protecting established interests like cab companies than serving the people.

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  • Boritz

    As this situation continues to worsen the authorities may need to become SWAT equipped in order to effectively continue their mission. If it becomes too dangerous to pull over offenders the tactic may evolve to taking down their license number and raiding their home at night. With a judicially issued search warrant (probable cause) there’s no telling what they could find in these people’s homes. This would have the potential to greatly boost conviction rates and get them off the roads once and for all.

    • Andrew Allison

      Unhappily, they are already SWAT-equipped, and regularly doing to law-abiding citizens what the thugs, er, Taxi and Limousine Commission,
      in NYC are doing to car drivers. Who in hell gave their employees police powers? We’re on a slippery slope folks.

      • B-Sabre

        Taxi inspectors in New Yawk are unarmed, but do have bullet-proof vests.

        “The TLC has roughly 170 enforcement inspectors. They wear badges and bulletproof vests and can make arrests, but they do not carry guns.”

        • Corlyss

          As long as they operate under the color of law, private property is not safe from them, armed or not.

        • Andrew Allison

          And from whence, pray tell, comes their authority to impound private vehicles? Anyone else for a boycott of NYC until the rule of law is restored there?

          • B-Sabre

            You said “SWAT-equipped” when they are clearly not. They’re not going to throw a flash-bang through your car window and then shoot you in the face with a full-auto M-4 carbine provided by DHS, which is the only redeeming thing in this story. The situation is reprehensible enough without indulging in “climate-disruption” level exaggeration.

            I assume their Authority comes from the City of New York, because nobody has had the balls to stand up in court and say “This ain’t the way it should be!” It’s perfectly legal until someone does it.

          • Andrew Allison

            You wrote “authorities,” not “Commission”, and my comment made it clear that I was referring to our increasingly militarized police forces, not the Commission. As for their authority, you appear to be overlooking the warrantless search and seizure issue.

  • timmaguire

    There is a term for this and that term is car jacking.

  • Curits

    Who let all the thugs out of the box in New York?

  • buckw

    Typical thuggish tactics employed by the democrat/union cabal. Uber is a great service–let the other cabs compete. After all, Uber drivers have more training and cleaner backgrounds than obamacare navigators.

  • JamesB

    “over the past year employees of New York’s Taxi and Limousine Commission have been seizing cars that they believed were being used as part of an illegal taxi service”

    Umm…how does this commission have the power to seize property from a private individual without a warrant or police involvement?

    • Rick Caird

      I suspect a couple of high dollar law suits for theft of vehicle and improper performance of city employee would put a stop to this nonsense.

    • Corlyss

      “Umm…how does this commission have the power to seize property from a private individual without a warrant or police involvement?”

      There’s either a state law or a city ordinance that gives them that power. Otherwise, the practice would have been challenged sooner.

  • George B

    In Real America where most people drive cars every day, seizing cars would be political suicide. Eliminate the tools of self-reliance like cars and land from daily life and government gains power to do crap like this.

    What law allows the taxi regulators to seize private cars on the spot? Normally police hand out tickets and courts decide guilt/innocence and impose penalties.

    • Corlyss

      Probably laws similar to forfeiture provisions of drug statutes that fill police warehouses with cars, boats, as well as real property.

  • Despiser_of_Libs

    “Leftist rhetoric consists of beautiful lies concealing ugly truths.”

  • ShadrachSmith

    Big City Republican candidates should support Uber’s cause. Uber can pony up donations and legal services. Republicans run on supporting the little guy and rousting out entrenched union/Democrat rent-seeking.

    Republicans should be all over this.

    • Corlyss

      “Big City Republican candidates”
      There ain’t hardly any such a animal. 100+ years ago the parties reached a modus vivendi whereby they would cede to each other their respective spheres of influence. Dems, with their dependence on large numbers of poor and immigrants to service, got the city governments; Republicans, with their conservative rural populations unwilling to surrender freedoms for spotty delivery of services they really didn’t need, got the state governments. NYC is determined to have to relearn the lessons they got under Beame/Dinkins and Koch/Giuliani.

  • Corlyss

    “NYC officials are now on record stating that Lyft cars operating without city permission will be seized.”

    I’ve proclaimed for 30 years that the Democratic party is a racketeering criminal enterprise masquerading as a political party. The proof continues to roll in at a shocking rate.

  • Harry Huntington

    Uber and Lyft could choose simply to comply with New York law. That wouldn’t be that difficult. Through the year there have been numerous business organizations that provided “public services” outside of the law. Recall, certain organized crime families provided gambling services, prostitution services, untaxed tobacco, and illegal pharmaceuticals. Usually we applaud when our elected officials enforce laws and close down those criminal enterprises. The fact that the enterprising folks with Uber and Lyft have found fun electronic ways to market their product doesn’t make them special. They still should follow the law.

    • MrDamage

      The city of New York could prove that the people they’re stealing motor vehicles from are doing something wrong _before_ seizing their vehicles and leaving them stranded miles from home. That the city of New York screwed Kareel Akins is not the doing of any third party.

      • Harry Huntington

        I would imagine Mr. Akins was able to get his car back. That is how seizure rules work. You fit a profile, or engage in questionable conduct, you face consequences. I recall the article said also he got a summons to appear. In Chicago they seize cars from folks arrested for solicitation. You do something that appears like solicitation to the police, they arrest you (or give you a summons) and they take your car. You haven’t yet been convicted by a court on any charge. Doesn’t matter. They still take the car. You then get to pay a penalty to buy your car back from the City. It might not even be your car. It might be your wife’s car. Which is the point, seizure deters bad conduct.

        NY should continue to enforce its laws. The law breakers should stop engaging in the bad conduct. Civil society works because we encourage folks to follow the law. Perhaps Mr. Akins should ask the lawbreakers to comply with NY law.

        • MrDamage

          How seizure works is the government scoops up the property of poor people and profits from the fact that the seizure itself works against them being able to defend themselves effectively. Seizing the property of persons prior to proving that they violated any law _is_ bad conduct. Your suggestion that Mr. Akins is being victimized by anyone other than the government officials who seized his property is as absurd as your indifference to the expense and inconvenience that action imposed on him is offensive.

          • Harry Huntington

            The government here is working to protect innocent people: the ones who follow the rules governing taxi service. Those folks are hard working people who every day perform a great service to the public. If you don’t like the law, work to change the law. The laws governing taxi service have worked quite well for years.

  • Milhouse
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