Wednesday, August 11, 2010

L "The Ticket" Part I

At least an hour of daylight remained when I picked up the older couple at Casino Center and Fremont. I was simply cruising through and got stuck at the red light when the old man waved his hand in the air indicating that he and his companion needed a cab.

It's a universal signal really. When I was in London and in need of Taxi service, I waited on the curb and raised my hand when a cab drove by. When I was in Beijing, and in need of Taxi service, I waited on the curb and raised my hand when a cab drove by. One time when I was in Chicago, and in need of Taxi service, I waited on the curb and raised my hand when a cab drove by. However in Las Vegas, this is illegal for a cab driver to do. Or so we are told and such is the practice. If you pick up a passenger that has flagged you anywhere off of a cab stand you can be cited. Or so is the status quotient.

There was no traffic to speak of and that was good because it took the old man and his wife a small bit of time to climb in. Just as they shut the door, I noticed in my mirror the Las Vegas Metro motorcycle cop turn onto Casino Center from Carson and soon he was right behind me. I only traveled a few feet before he lit me up, chirping the siren for just a second.

"Why are we getting pulled over?" the lady asked.

"I don't think he was supposed to pick us up there honey. Is that right driver?" the man replied.

"You got it sir, it's a dumb rule isn't it?" I said.

"What are we supposed to do, walk all over damnation to find a cab? You were right there!" He said.

"I know sir, as I said it's dumb."

"I've been all over the world and this is the only city I know of where you can't catch a cab on the street. That's like saying you can't see a doctor at the hospital. Why is it that way here, do you know?"

"Well it's an interesting question and I‘ve been wondering the same thing for a long time. Police write tickets to those that do it, and the courts seem to be upholding them. And the doormen do everything they can to perpetuate the myth because they want the business funneled through their stands and even the tourists reiterate it, as you just did. I've even talked to some drivers that were cited at gas stations, or other places of business, private property, where a ride presented itself. I mean think about it, I'm working and want some smokes and a cup of coffee. So I stop at the nearest 7-11, and a guy who just won a little money on the video poker machine doesn't feel like waiting for the bus anymore, so he hires me to take him home. According to some officers enforcement, this is very much illegal. What, I'm supposed to tell that potential customer to call my dispatch and wait for a cab to pick him up because the 7-11 doesn't have a cab stand? I refuse to believe that there is a law on the books prohibiting my picking up a customer at the 7-11. This is either absurd or it's incorrect. Either way maybe it‘s time to challenge it. To your question, it very much is the truth in practice yes, I'm just not so sure it's the truth according to the law."

The officer didn't take long before he strolled up to my window but I already had my documents in hand. Having gotten 8 tickets in the last 365 days and countless others before, you could say I'm getting good at this. The good news is, all 8 of those have been taken care of already and not one of them made it's way onto my record. I guess you could say that I have my resourcefulness to thank.

"Driver I need to see your license, registration and insurance card" the officer said.

I immediately handed them to him and held up my Taxicab Authority Driver Permit, "sir do you need this as well?"

"No." Metro Officers never want to see your TA permit or trip-sheet but I ask anyway. "Driver do you know why I'm pulling you over?" he said.

"Yes sir, I believe I do."

"I'll be back in a minute" he said, pleased I think, that I was doing my part to expedite the process.

A few minutes passed before the officer returned. "Driver I'm citing you for loading illegally. You know you're not supposed to pick up there. I need you to sign here, this is not an admission of guilt but a promise to appear in court on or before the date indicated at the bottom," he said and handed me a massive palm pilot looking thing.

"No problem sir, but before I do can I ask you a question?"

"Go ahead."

"What law are you citing me for violating specifically?"

He looked at me surprised that I went there I think. He took the mini computer out of my hand and said, "I'm not sure to be honest with you, I'll go find it and write it down for you."

"Thank you sir."

I laughed at the idea that the officer was not even sure what exact infraction he was writing me a ticket for. I mean, if he didn't know the law, is it even possible to have probable cause for the detention in the first place? And shouldn't you have to input this alleged infringed law into the little computer thing? Apparently not. I guess you can just enter in whatever you want.

The cop walked back to his motorcycle. "What's that all about?" my passenger said.

"Well there are a few different rules on the books that talk about this and I just want to know which one specifically he claims I violated," I said.

The cop returned, "driver I'm citing you for violating LVO(Las Vegas Ordinance) 11.60.040 loading outside of a cab stand."

"I see. Ok sir, thank you."

"Sign here."


I signed the palm pilot and handed it back to him.

"We're sorry that you got a ticket" my passengers said.

"That's ok," I replied "I've been trying to get this ticket for years." be continued: PART II


Ceetar said...

Tease. ;-) said...

Very interesting. Andy fought the law, but who won?

Goateedude said...

Damn your cliffhangers...

Anonymous said...

hm ... seems like the truth is in the second sentence of the rule:

LVMC 11.60.040 [...]. This provision shall *not* prevent the operator of a taxicab from temporarily stopping in accordance with other stopping or parking regulations at *any place* for the purpose of and while actually engaged in the expeditious *loading or unloading of passengers*.

tape said...

Agreed with the above. It seems to me, from the full wording of the law in question, that the real, legitimate purpose of the law is that cabs can't park on the street wherever they like, they have to do it at a designated cab stand, and perhaps with an emphasis on parking on the street with the intent of waiting for fares to approach you. The second sentence then SPECIFICALLY says that you may stop or park if you are engaged in the loading or unloading of passengers.

Also, from LVMC 11.60.050 Taxistands -- Use required:

"It is unlawful for any person to park a vehicle, as herein defined, for the purpose of *seeking or awaiting employment* in any place upon the streets in the City, other than at stands designated therefor"

In this case, you were a) not really parked - you could make a case for "stopped", but you were at a red light already so that's pretty disingenuous, and b) not seeking or awaiting employment -- THEY sought YOU.

There is nothing in 11.60.* that says it is illegal for you to pick up someone who is flagging you down. The police are misapplying the law, plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

"The police are misapplying the law"
Is that a surprise? The question is how do you fight it? I've been pulled over before for things I haven't done and been cited heavily, with no sympathy from the courts since the officer's word is held in higher regard than mine. The problem with the law is that it puts human over humans, and human error always screws things up. You have to eliminate human "error" in any good system design.

aburtch said...

It's illegal for a cab to pick up passengers on the street!? That's insane. Truly a doorman conspiracy going on here...

Neba Nebet said...

I'm so glad to see part of this story posted at last! I read the entire archive of this blog over a couple of days a few weeks back and started watching you on Twitter (you're on a list of mine :D) and so...yay!

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