Federal Appeals Court Rules Post-Arrest Suspensions of TLC Licenses Unconstitutional


July 24, 2019


TLC Drivers Suspended After an Arrest Deserve a Meaningful Hearing

Drivers Can Get License Restored While Criminal Case is Pending 

In a decision handed down on July 19, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rendered a decision in the case of Nnebe v. Daus and Stallworth v. Joshi, in which TLC (NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission) licensed drivers sued the TLC over the automatic suspension of their TLC/Hack licenses after an arrest. Drivers argued that the TLC suspended their licenses without meaningful due process in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Court agreed.

The Court ruled that the post-suspension hearing afforded to drivers at OATH (Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings) was meaningless and the standard applied in those hearings denied drivers of procedural due process and therefore is unconstitutional.

The Federal Court corrected the TLC’s erroneous application of its own rules, stating “The TLC must show that the charges, if assumed to be true, “demonstrate” that “the continuation of the License . . . would pose a direct and substantial threat.” TLC Rule §68-15(d)(3) (emphasis added). 

The Court continued that “It is possible for a driver to be charged with an act that itself endangered public health or safety, but that is insufficient to demonstrate that the driver would continue to pose a threat if allowed to retain his or her license. The crime may have been unrelated to his or her duties, for instance, or a sole infraction in an otherwise spotless record.”

Therefore, all future suspension hearings at OATH will require the TLC to demonstrate that the continued suspension of a driver’s TLC license is necessary because allowing the driver to work poses a direct and substantial threat to public safety. The Court’s language suggests that in matters where a driver was arrested off-duty and unrelated to his job that the license should not continue to be suspended. The Court stated:

“the further removed the crime is from the driver’s job, the less “direct” the threat may be if he or she remains licensed. Depending on the surrounding circumstances and the driver’s history, the threat may also be more or less “substantial.” 

The Law Office of Ali Najmi represents many TLC licensed drivers facing charges in Criminal Court. We understand how painful it can be to be unable to earn a living while fighting frivolous criminal charges. Given this landmark decision from the Federal Appeals Court, The Law Office of Ali Najmi is prepared to represent drivers in Summary Suspension Hearings at OATH and help drivers lift their TLC license suspensions after an arrest. Most TLC licensed drivers should be able to continue earning a living while their criminal case is pending and being defended. 

“Ali Najmi did excellent work reducing my case to a minimum, helping me avoid jail time as well as giving me the opportunity to have another chance to live a law abiding life. I had quite a heavy case and Ali succeeded in defending me.”

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