#UberOn in Hillsborough County, FL

Update: Tomorrow, Wednesday, May 13, the Hillsborough County PTC will hold a public hearing on a set of rule changes it plans to enact that would effectively shut out job-creating technologies like Uber in Hillsborough County.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015: 9:30AM – 12PM

601 E. Kennedy Blvd. BOCC Board Room, 2nd Floor
Tampa, FL 33602

You can take action now by telling PTC not to get rid of Uber in Tampa.


Board Chair Victor Crist 813-272-5452
Kyle Cockream 813-350-6878
Yvonne Capin 813-274-8133
David Pogorilich 813-514-3568
Ken Hagan 813-272-5725
Frank Reddick 813-274-8189
Billy Keel 813-659-4200
Al Higginbothom 813-272-5735

Original Article:

The Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission (PTC) recently filed a lawsuit against Uber, as well as some of its driver-partners. In response, Uber has promised to support its partners every step of the way. It has also promised to continue to connect its users with drivers who provide thousands of safe, reliable rides every day. Uber promises that this fight will not stop it from moving forward with innovation and consumer choice.

We find it particularly offensive that the PTC is pursuing criminal charges against the drivers. In fact, the PTC inspectors have been using undercover sting operations to hand drivers citations totally up to $700 each and making arrests for misdemeanor charge of operating without a proper permit.

PTC Inspectors have handed out more than 36 misdemeanor charges with 17 to Lyft drivers and 19 to Uber drivers. Those criminal charges should be fought aggressively in court because the old rules do not apply to these new technologies that power ride sharing. Citations include a civil penalty of $500 for violation of the HCPTC rules (Section 7-1) and Chapter 2001-299, for Operating a public vehicle for hire without a certificate. Somebody needs to explain the concept of ride sharing to Victor Crist (a Hillsborough County commissioner and Public Transportation Commission PTC Chairman).

He said on Tuesday that Uber could operate in Hillsborough County tomorrow if they met legal requirements. “But they come into town and claim, ‘we’re not a cab, we’re not a limousine..’ ” That is because they are not a cab or a limousine. It seems to me Uber is doing a better job at providing ride sharing which is much more convenient that a taxi service. In response, PTC should be talking about less regulation and ways to cut its own budget. Let’s find something better to do with taxpayer money than using it to fight innovation and consumer choice. I like Uber and Lyft for several reasons.

First, it is much faster and cheaper than a taxi. You push a button on your phone and within minutes a driver is there. The drivers and their vehicles are nicer and smell better. Sharing a ride through Uber or Lyft is a great way to get around for work or just to go out on the town.

Second, as a criminal defense attorney, I know that some people in Tampa have lost their driving privileges temporarily because of a DUI or even a first time conviction for a marijuana offense. These people can use Uber or Lyft to get to work and continue to provide for their families. A taxi is just too expensive and inconvenient. Third, many people that shouldn’t be driving because they have consumed alcohol or prescription medication can now use Uber or Lyft.

The number of DUI arrests should continue to drop as more people realize that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is simply not worth the risk of hurting someone or getting arrested. This is especially true when you can just hit a button on your phone to share a ride within a matter of minutes.

The County Commissioners and other elected county officials should remember that people that like Uber also like to vote. If they shut down Uber and Lyft in Hillsborough County, then new County Commissioners should be elected who are not afraid of innovation and consumer choice.

Statements from the Companies: A Uber spokesman says: “Dozens of municipalities across the country have recognized that their transportation regulations are outdated and simply don’t apply to the modern ridesharing business model. The fact that the PTC refuses to catch up with the times indicates they are more concerned with maintaining control over the status quo than improving the lives of Tampa residents and visitors. We fully stand behind our partners and will cover any legal or financial costs associated with these unjust citations.”

A Lyft spokeswoman released this statement: “We are actively monitoring the situation in Tampa and are providing legal assistance wherever needed. While we cannot comment on pending legal matters, we are committed to standing strong with drivers and passengers every step of the way. Ridesharing has become part of daily life for people in Tampa and we will continue working with the PTC to find a solution that prioritizes public safety and consumer choice.”

Read more about efforts at the state level to unnecessarily regulate ride sharing – Florida 2015 Senate Bill 1298: Targets Ubers and “Transportation Network Companies.


  1. Ray
    Posted April 9, 2015 at 03:15 | Permalink | Reply

    Better Call Saul: “You Will Atone!” Ha Ha Ha, Good luck with that.

    • Ray
      Posted April 9, 2015 at 03:34 | Permalink | Reply

      You have an awesome law firm, your talents are being wasted in Florida.

      • Mel
        Posted April 9, 2015 at 11:16 | Permalink

        Yikes Ray, Florida needs more like him, not less.

  2. Matt T
    Posted May 12, 2015 at 14:32 | Permalink | Reply

    I wonder if the proper studies/research been conducted on the effects of drinking and driving in our County with additional services like Uber? I.e. are Hillsborough’s representatives aware of the real difficulties (availability/timeliness) to acquire a traditional taxi cab in the County’s outer suburbs past witching hour?

    Have our County’s attorneys considered and vetted the possible liability involved with hindering the ride service? I.e. if a DUI with or without injury or death could have been prevented now that evidence is available via nearly a year’s worth of data that has been collected by these companies or the emails of their riders?

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