Consumer Complainant Hearing Guide
In most cases, the person being accused of breaking TLC rules will plead guilty to an appropriate charge and pay a fine. If the accused pleads guilty, there will be no hearing and the case will be closed. In the rare event that the accused does not plead guilty, a hearing will be held before the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings: Taxi and Limousine Tribunal (“OATH TLT”). OATH TLT is a City agency operated independently of the TLC.
You have the choice to appear at the hearing by telephone or in person. Either way, a prosecutor from the Consumer Complaint Unit of the TLC will contact you in advance of the hearing date to prepare you for the hearing. The prosecutor will explain the hearing procedures, review the facts of the case and may have questions pertaining to the incident.
If you are appearing by telephone, the prosecutor will call you on the day of the hearing to confirm your availability. OATH TLT grants a 60-minute grace period for each case, as some may run beyond the scheduled hearing time. You should be prepared to receive the call anywhere between five (5) minutes before, or 60 minutes after, the scheduled hearing time. Hearings usually last 30 to 45 minutes, once testimony begins. A copy of the OATH Hearing Officer's decision will be emailed to you after the hearing.
If you are appearing in-person, you should try to arrive at court at least 15 minutes before your scheduled hearing time. OATH TLT grants a 60-minute grace period for each case, as some may run beyond the scheduled hearing time. An OATH TLT employee will check you in and show you where to sit. OATH TLT will then notify TLC that you have arrived. The prosecutor in the case will then come and get you when it is time for your hearing. Hearings usually last 30 to 45 minutes, once testimony begins. Afterwards, you can wait for a copy of the OATH Hearing Officer decision or you can ask to have it emailed to you.
Please note, up until the start of the hearing, there is a possibility that the accused will plead guilty to an appropriate charge and the hearing will not need to take place.
No matter how you participate, all hearings will follow the same general process:
- The OATH TLT OATH Hearing Officer will announce the case on the record and explain the hearing procedures
- The TLC prosecutor will present the TLC’s case consisting of your testimony as well as the presentation of documents related to the identification of the accused
- You will be sworn in and testify as to what happened that led you to make a complaint against the accused
- After the prosecutor presents your testimony, the accused or the accused attorney or representative will have the opportunity to ask you questions; the OATH Hearing Officer may also ask you questions.
- When you have completed your testimony you will be placed on hold or you will be escorted out of the hearing room.
- The OATH Hearing Officer will listen to both sides and make a decision as to what happened (a “finding of fact”) as well as whether any TLC rules were broken and what the penalty, if any, should be (a “finding of law”).
- When the testimony is finished, the OATH Hearing Officer will then ask everyone to leave the courtroom so he or she can write the decision.
- Both you and the person accused of breaking the rules will receive a copy of the OATH Hearing Officer’s final decision, which will also include a description of the penalty if the person being accused is found guilty.
OATH Hearing Officer can only make decisions about the TLC rules and only apply penalties as provided for in the TLC rules. They cannot provide arbitration services. The hearing is not an appropriate time or place to make an individual “deal” with the person you filed the complaint against.
Things to Know About the TLC’s Consumer Complaint Unit
It is the TLC’s policy not to disclose any personal information that is in the TLC’s possession, whether that information relates to licensees, witnesses, or any other individuals, except as may be required by law, including a court order or subpoena. Therefore, if you submit a complaint, the TLC will not disclose your identity, address or other personal information to anyone outside the TLC. However, if you agree to testify at a hearing, your identity must be disclosed on the record of the hearing.
You can only file one complaint about an incident. Any other passengers present at the time of the incident can also testify at the same hearing.