Taxi Industry Wants to Throw Uber and Lyft Drivers in Jail

Miami-Dade County is slamming the brakes on Uber and Lyft, two popular ridesharing alternatives to hailing a cab. Police have already been running sting operations, impounding cars and threatening rideshare drivers with thousands of dollars in fines.

But apparently that’s not enough for some in the taxi industry.

During a Miami-Dade commissioners meeting on Wednesday, the owner of U.S.A. taxi, Rudy Gonzalez, wanted the county to “put the drivers in jail.” As The Miami Herald recounted, “Industry lobbyist Susan Fried pushed for a ‘citizen’s arrest’ of Lyft representatives at the meeting if they weren’t registered to lobby. Another speaker called for a Lyft driver in the county commission chambers to be issued a ticket—on the spot.”

This is just the latest escalation in the county’s hardline approach to ridesharing. Earlier this month, undercover code enforcement officers impounded three cars owned by Lyft drivers. Those drivers now face fines up to $2,000 for not registering as a chauffeur and for not having a valid for-hire license. Lyft has covered all of its drivers’ fines and legal expenses and got their cars back from the pound. Uber has pledged to do likewise.

Doug Pursley, a Lyft driver whose car was impounded, was aggravated by these aggressive police tactics. “Where are the taxpayer resources going? As a taxpayer, I’m going, ‘Thanks a lot, guys.’”

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only crackdown on ridesharing. Last week, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles ordered Uber and Lyft to “cease-and-desist,” threatening their drivers with up to $1,000 in civil penalties. This came after the DMV already fined the two firms $35,000. In Pittsburgh, Uber and Lyft face over $200,000 in fines collectively from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. Yinzers definitely need more options: Pittsburgh’s largest cab company has “only about 300 cabs for a city of 300,000 people.” Meanwhile, the Institute for Justice is currently defending Chicago rideshare drivers from a baseless lawsuit by the taxicab industry.

You can Take Action: Help IJ’s Transportation Initiative Free the Drivers

— Nick Sibilla
Nick Sibilla is a writer at the Institute for Justice

Sign up to receive IJ's biweekly digital magazine, Liberty & Law along with breaking updates about our fight to protect the rights of all Americans.