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Crackdown: Fines on ride-sharing drivers | News

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Crackdown: Fines on ride-sharing drivers

Tampa, Florida -- Tampa transportation enforcers are cracking down on the popular new ride sharing programs "Uber" and "Lyft."

Inspectors have handed out thousands of dollars in tickets to drivers who the Public Transportation Commission says are operating illegally. There's also concerns that users don't know who is behind the wheel.

"They're operating illegally, because they're violating all of our rules, every one of them," says PTC Director Kyle Cockream.

Cockream says ride sharing programs drove onto the scene in Hillsborough County a couple months ago and haven't been following the rules of the roads since. PTC claims drivers, who offer rides through phone apps, are operating without the proper insurance, without an FBI fingerprint background check, and without getting their personal car inspected.


"Two of the four drivers who we cited last Friday are not even from Central Florida: North Carolina, New Jersey. One did not have a valid driver's license," says Cockream.

Next week, the PTC plans to ask both Tampa Police and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office for help with violators.

Right now, the PTC has to get creative, cracking down with limited resources. When a rider uses the app to request a car, an inspector may be the one waiting for the driver, waiting to hand out tickets.

The PTC tells 10 News since May 3, 2014, a dozen drivers have been given 44 tickets, totaling $9,200 in fines with $4,600 of it paid so far. Uber's General Manager in Tampa, William Guernier, says the company is covering all of those tickets.

"From our perspective we're operating 100 percent legally, as such, we'll continue to operate," says Guernier.

He claims a ride is covered up to $1 million by the company's commercial insurance and says Uber does do background checks on drivers.

"We work with a third party that provides best-in-class background checks. We run a county check, multi-state check, a federal check, and driver's motor vehicle records," Guernier says.

"This fight has become volatile on both sides," says Rep. Jamie Grant, R-Tampa.

Grant is pushing a state bill to regulate minimum fares and wait times, but protecting riders would still have to be addressed at the local level.

"I think it's the ability for a consumer to vote with their wallet. If a consumer says they want to get car service the way they want to get it, as long as they're able to do so in a safe environment, it shouldn't be government's role to get in the way," Grant says.

Uber and Lyft driver, Patrick Ward, tells 10 News that he has not been ticketed, but he has been confronted by other cab drivers who accused him of stealing their business. Ward makes his living driving full-time for the ride-sharing programs. He hopes the PTC can work with the companies to quickly reach an agreement about the rules.


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