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| Culture |

Taxi Drivers Get County's Attention in "Sunpass Rage" Fight

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For four years, taxi drivers protested to County officials that it was unlawful for them to be penalized for not having a SunPass transponder in their cabs. They got no response. With the new year, the cabbies convinced a lawyer to represent them-- and now the County has finally taken notice.

There's a moral in here somewhere.

On Monday, Riptide reported that taxi driver William Vilna, flanked by his newly-acquired pro bono attorney, was vowing to fight a $50 citation he received for "fail[ing] to meet SunPass requirements". Since 2005, code enforcers have been ticketing cabbies if they don't have a working transponder in their vehicle.

The problems with that requirement, cabbies say, are myriad. The SunPass system is not especially taxi-friendly, considering that each transponder can only be linked to one vehicle but most cabbies switch cars often. But most importantly, pointed out Vilna's lawyer Jose Javier Rodriguez: The SunPass requirement wasn't passed as an ordinance, never gestating beyond the "resolution" stage, which does not a law make.

Now Sonya M. Perez, a spokesperson for the Miami-Dade Consumer Services Department, says her agency is "reviewing the issue":

Perez said her department decided to review the matter after drivers brought it to the agency's attention.

Rodríguez said the review has major implications because it could lead to the county suspending the SunPass requirement or the fines or both, and could even require the reimbursement of fines already collected.

Score 1 for the little guy (and his lawyer).

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