Fight, Don’t Pay Bogus Tickets from State Troopers at the Airport and Boston Hackney Officers

On May 28, 2014 I was given a citation from a state trooper who said I needed livery plates to operate at Logan Airport. On October 22, 2014, the judge threw out the citation.

Unfortunately, many drivers were told to pay these tickets and were reimbursed by Lyft. This was a mistake.

In 2013, rather than using local experts, Lyft hired a consultant who reviewed the relevant statutes for all the cities across the country in which they were operating. His conclusion was that Massachusetts was similar to many states in that only moving violation tickets can trigger increase in insurance premiums.

This is not a true statement.

Starting a few months ago, Lyft started contesting all of the new tickets. However, for whatever reason, Lyft has not contacted all the drivers who have already paid tickets at the airport and from Boston hackney officers.

If you are one of these drivers, your insurance might be increasing soon. Lyft will pay for an attorney to represent your interests whether you recently received a ticket or have already paid one. You should contact Matt Kane immediately:

Matthew A. Kane, Counsel
Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas, LLP

On May 28, 2014 as I was dropping off Kelly X at Logan Airport, a state trooper flagged me down, walked up to my car, asked me for my license and registration and then went back to his car to run my information. All very respectful and routine.

The trooper came back to my car and he was no longer respectful. He told me to get out of the car. His face was close to mine while standing in front of my car with my rider, Kelly in the passenger seat.

Looking at Kelly, the trooper said: You have no idea who these drivers are. They could be Level 3 sex offenders.

I said: That’s not correct. We are all screened for criminal records.

Trooper: Look, you’re just an illegal taxi with a silly mustache. If you want to operate at the airport, you have to have livery plates. I’m citing you for not having livery plates.

I said: You know and I know that this citation will never stick. I’ll just contest it in court and the magistrate will throw it out. You’re only doing this to scare me and scare my passengers. There are hundreds of Lyft drivers in the city. If I’m an illegal taxi, you should arrest me right now and impound my car. Are you arresting me?

Some more discussion then….

Trooper: I’ll be mailing you the ticket.

Kelly rolled her eyes and left my car to catch her plane. I drove away.

On June 9, 2014 I received a ticket in the mail. The offense was listed as:

540 CMR (Code of Massachusetts Regulations) Section 2.05, Improper Registration of Motor Vehicle. The assessment was for $35.

However the ticket did not specify which subsection the citation referred to.

Section 2.05 is five pages long. Those pages include:

540 CMR 2.05 (4)(i) Livery vehicle shall display a LIVERY registration number plate

If I paid the ticket, then I was admitting that I required livery plates.

I thought, if I really needed livery plates, why didn’t he include Subsection (4)(i) in the description?

Later on June 9, I mailed in my ticket, with my $25 court fee and requested a hearing with the notation: please provide in writing exactly why my vehicle is improperly registered and which clause I am violating in 540 CMR 2.05.

On June 25 I was notified that my hearing would be on September 4, 2014 and that my violation was:

540 CMR 2.05 (6)(a)Registration Sticker Missing

The bogus livery talk was gone and replaced by this false claim. If the trooper wrote this ticket while standing next to my car, I could have pointed out that I had a sticker and even taken a picture of it!

However because he mailed it he was able to fulfill his real goal.

State troopers at Logan Airport continue to harass Lyft drivers and riders without any consequences.

I appeared before the magistrate of the East Boston District Court on September 4, 2014. Without putting anything in writing, the magistrate said: You need livery plates in order to pick up and drop off passengers at the airport.”

I said: But the notice I received says that my registration sticker was missing. This is not true and the notice says nothing about livery plates.

The magistrate said: The registry of motor vehicles sends out those notices and can put whatever they want on it.

I said: If I needed livery plates, they would have cited that as my violation.

The trooper attending the session to represent the trooper who gave me the citation then said:

This is one of those UBER tickets.

I said: The ticket says I violated 540 CMR 2.05 for Improper Registration. However it doesn’t say which section of that five page regulation I violated.

Then in an exasperated voice the magistrate said: It doesn’t matter what section of 2.05 you were in violation. You’re just in violation of 2.05.

I said: Am I in violation for not having livery plates or because the trooper said my registration sticker was missing?

The magistrate then just said: Schedule a court date and tell it to the judge.

I suspect the magistrate in the East Boston Court knows all about these bogus tickets. They depend on Lyft to just reimburse drivers for the cost of the ticket causing the driver to admit they committed the violation.

If rather than paying 30 or however many of these tickets over the past year, Lyft contested them before they were paid, by now we would have proved the pattern.

State troopers would have already been out of the Lyft harassment business.

The worst consequence of not contesting the tickets is the effect on driver’s insurance costs.

Months after being given an airport ticket, a driver’s insurance premiums went up due to the addition of SDIP points. By paying the ticket, he has admitted that he committed a surchargeable violation. It no longer matters what subsection it was for.

There are no grounds for appeal.

Just as this driver did, anyone who has already paid a ticket at the airport or from a Boston hackney officer needs to be reimbursed for the increase in insurance premiums over the next six years.

Lyft paid for my attorney Matt Kane to represent  me in court. On October 22, 2014 I appeared in front of the judge. The judge had a five minute discussion with my attorney and the hackney officer for troopers at the airport.

The judge’s findings were brief and simply stated that I was “not responsible” for the citation.

Fighting a bogus ticket, even though its “only $35”, is a lot smarter than paying hundreds of dollars of additional insurance premiums for six years.

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