The TLC’s hearing unit plays an important role in both protecting public safety and providing due process for TLC licensees that receive summonses. The team is made up of eight attorneys who prosecute summonses that are answerable to a hearing. The Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) is an independent administrative law court, as well as a City agency that is separate from the TLC.
“All of our attorneys are very professional and hardworking,” said Steven Guerrero, the supervising attorney of hearings. “When drivers have their day in court, our attorneys do the best they can to hold them accountable.”
Summonses that licensees receive may come from TLC field officers, consumer complaints, or be issued administratively from trip records. Consumer complaints are reviewed by an intake unit of attorneys, and the cases are evaluated. The TLC speaks to the witness and reviews what charges may apply. If a witness is unable to speak to a prosecutor during business hours, arrangements can be made to speak to the TLC afterhours. If a driver does not plead guilty to the offense, his or her case will have a hearing at OATH.
Common cases that the TLC’s hearings unit works on include traffic safety infractions, service refusals, and overcharges. Attorneys from the unit take part in 50 to 100 daily hearings a day.
If the summons is from a consumer complaint, the TLC gathers testimony from the witness. About 90 to 95% of witnesses typically give testimony by phone. Some submit photos, videos, and police reports to make their case. Drivers may use an attorney or industry representative at OATH, or they can represent themselves during an OATH hearing.
Guerrero strongly encourages the public to report complaints to the TLC so that they may be investigated, and action taken as needed to hold licensees accountable. His staff appreciates the time and effort that the public gives during the process.
“Keep filing the complaints,” he said. “We take all complaints seriously, every one. We give them the time and attention, and do the best we can. We take everything very seriously.”
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