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One charge dropped against UberX drivers

The city will still pursue the 11 drivers caught in a sting for operating a taxi without a licence, but dropped improper insurance charges.
June 24, 2015
By Marco Chown Oved

The city has dropped one charge against the UberX drivers caught in a police sting operation last spring, but will proceed against them on another.

At Old City Hall on Wednesday, city lawyer Lisa Solish said the city dropped the non-criminal charge of operating a commercial vehicle without proper insurance because there was “no reasonable prospect of conviction.”

The charge of picking up a passenger without a taxi licence is proceeding and will be heard in August.

“The prosecution and the defence both agreed that my clients were not driving commercial motor vehicles as that phrase is defined in the Highway Traffic Act,” said lawyer Gerald Chan, who represents the drivers.

“The prosecution very fairly and promptly dropped the charges once it recognized the problem, so the city will not have to spend more resources pursuing charges that never should have been laid.”

Eleven drivers operating with the ride sharing service were nabbed in a police sting last March and charged with the non-criminal offences of operating without a proper licence and insurance.

In Ottawa, 36 UberX drivers have been charged under a municipal bylaw 74 times. Some 31 have pleaded guilty to operating without a taxi licence and paid fines totaling more than $18,200, said Philip Powell, an Ottawa city program manager.

An Uber spokesperson would not say whether the company was paying for Chan, nor if it would cover the fines.

The City of Toronto is still embroiled in seeking a court injunction to prevent Uber from operating in the city.

“This will encourage people to drive without insurance,” said Amrik Dhami, a Unifor union representative for taxi drivers in Ontario. “Insurance is the single most important thing.”

“How can you say that a guy was driving an illegal taxi, but they had proper insurance? They’re contradicting themselves.”