What Happens If a Livery Service Hires Unlicensed Drivers?

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Nojeem Odunfa, the driver who struck and killed 25-year-old cyclist Jerrison Garcia on Park Avenue early Monday, had neither a driver’s license nor a license from the Taxi and Limousine Commission. Odunfa was behind the wheel of a livery car, and was charged with driving without a license, failure to exercise due care, and a right-of-way violation. But what’s the penalty for a livery base that hires unlicensed drivers?

The simple answer is that a base gets a $500 fine for dispatching a driver who isn’t licensed by the TLC. The tricky part is proving that the driver was indeed dispatched.

Odunfa “could have been transporting the car for inspection, he could have been going for a coffee run,” said Allan Fromberg, a spokesperson for the TLC.  It’s only carrying a passenger for money that’s prohibited, not just driving a vehicle owned by a livery base. “There’s no evidence that there was a dispatch. But I would say that the investigation on this base is still open.”

Glory Car and Limo Service, Inc., the base affiliated with the car Odunfa was driving, “was not cooperative in terms of sharing their records. That’s very problematic,” Fromberg said. The base will be fined, and the TLC will go to court seeking to suspend the base’s license until it complies with the records request, he said.  

In addition to a fine, a base that dispatches unlicensed drivers can get points, just like a driver gets points on their license. Bases can also accrue points if their vehicles aren’t licensed by the TLC, if the vehicles aren’t properly inspected, and a slew of other violations. If a base gets six points in three years, the base can be shut down. A list of for-hire bases with penalty points on the TLC website has 17 entries, the most recent of which dates to March 2011. Each base on the list has just one point.