Some ride-share drivers say they're being targeted by police

(WSMV file photo)

When you don't want to drive, you hit a button on an app and an Uber or Lyft driver picks you up.

But some ride-share drivers say they feel police are targeting them and singling them out for tickets.

Sally Ramka drives for Uber. She got a $50 ticket for stopping on the street in front of a bar on Gallatin Road last October.

She told the I-Team the officer cited her for impeding traffic on a slow night when there were four clear lanes.

"I was like, impeding what traffic?" Ramka said.

Ramka fought the ticket in traffic court and won.

On any given day, rideshare drivers appear in Davidson County Traffic Court protesting tickets for moving violations that include impeding traffic.

One driver, who was represented by an attorney, says he had stopped for less than 30 seconds downtown.

His attorney, Lonnie Hoover, told the News 4 I-Team that Uber and Lyft drivers were being targeted.

"Why should they be singled out above beer trucks and food purveyors and tour buses and others to get impeding traffic charges?" Hoover said.

Metro Nashville Police Department spokesperson Kris Mumford said there is no effort or directive to target rideshare drivers.

“There is, however, a vigorous effort to enforce traffic laws during special events,” Mumford said. "We do not target Uber or Lyft drivers, we target violations. Those violators include taxis, limos and parents alike."

The topic of police ticketing Uber and Lyft drivers is generating a lot of conversation on a rideshare driver’s Facebook page.

Uber driver Jeff Dooley decided to contact the police department to clarify the policy about where drivers can and can’t pull over.

The document he was sent pertains to special events downtown.

It tells rideshare drivers to stop only in legal parking spaces or loading zones. Taxis, the memo says, should use loading zones “if available.”

How, then, are drivers able to pick up or drop off riders when there is no loading zone or if the loading zone is full?

The loading zone guideline also seemed to contradict what the News 4 I-Team witnessed in traffic court where police had cited drivers for stopping in loading zones.

News 4 asked Metro police to clarify.

“They can always use loading and unloading zones,” said Mumford.

Dooley said he doesn’t understand the guidelines.

"I don't have a clue, and I even have a copy of the rules," Dooley said.

The confusion affects both drivers and their passengers.

If you're a rider, will you be able to get in and out at your favorite restaurant or club? Will you and your driver be able to find each other, if the driver has to park on a side street or a parking lot?

Councilman Freddie O’Connell represents downtown and the Gulch.

News 4 brought the problem to his attention and he looked into it. He agreed that the city needs policies that are fair and clear.

"It's incumbent upon me to see what I can do to urge all of Metro to offer that clarity and coordination," he said.

Ramka, the Uber driver who was ticketed on Gallatin Pike, had her ticket for impeding traffic dismissed.

General Sessions Judge Sam Coleman said he thought Ramka was guilty but added that the city’s laws have not done a good job of incorporating this new service to the city.

Metro Government tried to regulate rideshare companies in the past, according to Billy Fields of the Transportation Licensing Commission. However, state law said they could not.

Taxis, however, are regulated by Metro. They are licensed, pay taxes and have drop-off and pick-up areas downtown.

Uber and Lyft do not have dedicated pick-up areas downtown, which some drivers say would be helpful, especially for customers who want to visit the honky-tonks on Broadway.

“Taxis are afforded certain rights because they are regulated by Metro ordinances,” Mumford said.

As for setting aside a downtown pick-up area, Mumford said, “Since Uber and Lyft don’t pay regulatory taxes, perhaps they would be interested in investing in the creation a private parking lot.”

Mumford said creating a special parking area for rideshare drivers downtown is a question that should be addressed to Metro Council.

Copyright 2018 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.



Recommended for you