Garodnick Proposes Three-Strikes Suspension Policy for TLC Drivers

Council Member Dan Garodnick introduced legislation today establishing a three-strikes-and-you’re-out policy affecting for-hire drivers who have had license suspensions. The bill would prohibit drivers from receiving a license from the Taxi and Limousine Commission if they have received three suspensions in the past 10 years on either their DMV-issued or TLC-issued licenses for traffic-related infractions.

Council Member Dan Garodnick wants a three-strikes policy for TLC drivers who have received license suspensions. Photo: Jeffrey Zeldman/Flickr
Council Member Dan Garodnick wants a three-strikes policy for TLC drivers who have received license suspensions. Photo: ## Zeldman/Flickr##

TLC is “in the process of reviewing the bill,” according to an agency spokesperson, who pointed to existing penalties for TLC and DMV violation points.

Those rules, enacted in 2014 after the mayor signed a package of Vision Zero bills, look at points on a driver’s license within a 15-month window. The rules mandate one-month suspensions for drivers who have received between six and nine points for traffic violations, and license revocation for drivers with 10 or more points within a 15-month period.

Garodnick’s bill (Intro 1243) goes after drivers who rack up multiple suspensions and keep returning to the road, but never receive enough points at one time to have their license revoked.

“There are hundreds of thousands of trips in TLC-licensed vehicles each day, and our bill promotes safer streets by getting repeat violators of traffic laws out from behind the wheel of taxis,” Garodnick told Streetsblog.

There is no estimate available of how many drivers would be affected by Garodnick’s three-strikes proposal, but driver representatives are not happy about it. New York Taxi Workers Alliance spokesperson Bhairavi Desai told the Daily News that the bill is “baseless scapegoating” of drivers. “What this does is deprive drivers of the ability to show rehabilitation,” she said.

Garodnick countered that the legislation would serve to ensure that repeat dangerous drivers are not putting New Yorkers in danger. “Suspensions are serious and are not issued easily or lightly. If someone has not just one, or two, but three suspensions, that is more than enough reason for us to doubt their ability to be a safe driver,” he said.

Existing TLC rules allow drivers to voluntarily take safety courses to reduce the number of points on their licenses. Garodnick’s bill would not change that rule.

Under Cooper’s Law — named for 9-year-old Cooper Stock, killed in January 2014 by a yellow cab driver — the TLC can also permanently revoke the licenses of drivers who are convicted of hurting or killing someone. As of March, Cooper’s Law had never been used to that end.

For the TLC to apply Cooper’s Law, NYPD and district attorneys must issue summonses or bring charges against the driver. Of the 21 crashes involving TLC-licensed drivers that killed pedestrians or cyclists since the law was enacted, NYPD and city DAs are known to have filed charges in only eight cases, according to information compiled by Streetsblog.

Dana Lerner, Cooper Stock’s mother, said she was “pleased” that the council member was pursuing the legislation, but said that reckless TLC drivers are still given too many chances. “How hard is it to follow the law and provide safe passage for riders? They should have the highest standards [because] people’s lives are at stake,” Lerner said in an email. “In what other profession are people given so many chances and warnings?”