Thousands off the hook in cabbie overcharging case

February 24, 2012 2:17:34 PM PST
In the biggest taxi scandal in years, thousands of drivers were accused of ripping off customers by pushing a special out-of-city button and greatly inflating the fare.

But the vast majority of those accused only did it a couple times. So was it deliberate or just a mistake?

"We couldn't be sure it was deliberate and not just an accident. And so we felt the right way to use our prosecutorial discretion was to give the driver the benefit of the doubt," TLC Commissioner David Yassky said.

Out of almost 22-thousand accused, 17-hundred faced fines and suspensions.

Another 318 had their license revoked

Fifty-nine cabbies are facing criminal charges.

More than 19-thousand now face no punishment at all. So did the TLC overreact? Was the investigation a little too much?

"I think far from over-zealous, it was important to send a tough message that the integrity of the fare has to be respected," Yassky said.

What's frustrating to many cab drivers is the TLC should have known better. It had the computers and GPS technology to charge the special out-of-city fare automatically. They ask why leave that discretion to a driver to push the correct or wrong button right next to each other?

"What we thought was going to happen, happened. We knew it was going to happen because there are greedy drivers period," driver Ethan Tuncel said.

Tuncel says he's glad the t-l-c got a few hundred bad guys out of the business. There's now a new system in cabs alerting customers if they're charged that special higher rate. So for 19-thouand cabbies caught up in the scandal, it's now all over.

"The 19,000 - they're honest cab drivers. They just made a mistake. The public should know that," Tuncel said.

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