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Taxis Busted: Taxi Commission Inspectors Issue 69 Citations Shadowing Undercover WUSA9 Crew

12:10 AM, Feb 22, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA9) -- In the wake of a WUSA9 investigation, D.C. taxi inspectors busted cabs for not picking up black passengers - and other violations - while shadowing our undercover taxi team.

It's all caught on camera.

Video shows one taxi slowing in front of our black passenger who grabs the door handle to get in, but the driver had locked the doors and sped off while his hand was still on the door.

Our undercover crew and DC taxi inspectors were waiting down the street.

The driver was cited for "failing to haul" and issued a $250 ticket.

Inspectors issue 69 citations

The taxi commission says it issued 69 citations while observing our investigation, including 18 tickets to taxis that didn't stop to offer service, or did stop, but refused to travel to the requested designation.

Inspectors towed seven vehicles including a sedan on M St. N.W. and an Virginia cab that offered to pick us up off Wisconsin Avenue N.W.

The taxi commission assigned inspectors to follow our undercover taxi team after a three month investigation showed a DC cab system out of control.

Drivers issued $250 ticket for refusing service

Others drove right past our undercover black passenger and offered service to our undercover white passenger.

"I did not know that he was there," the driver said when confronted with failing to pick-up the black passenger. " Well if he was there he didn't raise his hand. His hand was raised."

"I saw him put up his hand like this," a taxi inspector bellowed before writing a $250 ticket.

Our undercover cameras also recorded a taxi van that ordered our passenger out when he requested a Southeast DC destination.

Inspectors stopped the van in the middle of M Street N.W. in Georgetown.

"Why didn't you just give the guy a ride?" and inspector asked.

The driver said he asked the passenger to get out because he was going the other direction.

"Right now you've got refusal to haul, that's a $250 ticket," the inspector said writing a ticket.

Majority did right thing, but one was angry at test

Most cabs did the right thing, and inspectors thanked them.

"You know there's some that don't pick up right," an inspector explained to a cab that had picked up our black passenger. "Thank you sir. Have a good night."

But a cab driver who followed the rules twice by picking up both of our undercover passengers became enraged when he sensed it was a sting.

"You're setting me up," the driving said protesting to inspectors who tried to calm him down. " You're setting us up."

He was upset inspectors were using their time catching cabbies doing things wrong instead of protecting them from dangers on the street.

"Sir, I was robbed, and I work hard," he screamed at inspectors. "People are out there to kill me. People are out to kill us and nobody cares about that."

Vehicles impounded and towed

We didn't just test DC cabs.

When a Virginia cab stopped in front of us on Wisconsin Ave. N.W. we asked if he'd give us a ride.

Only DC cabs are allowed to pick-up passengers in DC.

When the Virginia cab agreed to take us Fairfax, inspectors issued a $500 fine and impounded his car.

Inspectors towed a sedan that offered to pick us up off the street in Georgetown and take us to Capitol Hill.

The sedan also faces a $1,000 fine.

Several times, cabs slowed down in front of our undercover black passenger, then sped by until inspectors pounded on the hood ordering stops.

"Off duty" was common excuse

One driver said he didn't stop because he was hungry and on his way to dinner.

Another claimed he was out of service because he wanted to leave D.C. and head to Virginia.

"He said he was off duty," the inspectors said next to the cab he was ticketing. "DC law says if you're if you're off duty, you must have an off duty sign in your window stating that you're off duty. His cruise light was active He was in service

How to submit your taxi expieriences

WUSA9 has activated a mobile upload site and is encouraging passengers to record transactions with suspect cabbies and submit the videos if violations occur.

Passengers can use the WUSA9 iAlert link at wusa9.com, e-mail their videos directy to iAlert@wusa9.com, or bookmarkwusa9.com/iAlert on their mobile phone browser.

For the latest on our ongoing DC taxi investigation, follow @russptacek on Twitter or Facebook.

Links to our series of DC taxi investigations

Click here to see a recent story on DC's out of control taxi system: http://www.wusa9.com/news/article/244109/158/Caught-On-Camera-DC-Taxi-System-Out-Of-Control-

Click here to see WUSA9 investigation showing blacks stranded by 25% of DC cabs in favor of white passengers. http://www.wusa9.com/dontmiss/241642/379/Undercover-Taxi-Probe-Finds-25-Of-Blacks-Left-Stranded

Click here to see the December WUSA9 investigation that tracked blacks refused destinations at higher rates.  http://www.wusa9.com/investigation/article/232588/453/DC-Cabs-Refuse-Black-Passenger-On-Hidden-Camera

Click here for five tips to get cabs to take you home: http://www.wusa9.com/news/article/232705/158/5-Tips-For-Getting-DC-Cabs-To-Take-You-Home

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