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Taxi company to defy car-for-hire ordinance

Posted at 6:46 PM, May 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-23 18:46:24-04

A Lee County taxi owner said he will openly defy the county's licensing process for vehicles for hire, claiming that drivers for Uber and other companies aren't following registration procedures. So he's going to ignore them too.

Chris Specht of Amber Taxi told Fox 4 that he's disappointed that police have stated that they aren't devoting many resources to cracking down on improperly permitted drivers. In an open letter to Lee County Commissioners, law enforcement and Fort Myers City Council, Specht wrote that the county's ordinance requiring drivers of cars for hire to register with the county doesn't have any teeth, and is a waste of time and money.

"Only the people that are spending the time and money in an attempt to comply...that is their punishment, because everybody else is out there just doing their own thing," Specht said Monday.

By everybody, he said he's referring to ride services like Uber and Lyft. So Specht said that he won't bother complying with the ordinance any longer.

"If they're not enforcing it, there's not going to be any penalty for not complying," he said.

But Det. Sgt. Dana Coston of the Cape Coral Police Department said that approach could prove to be a liability for Specht and his drivers.

"They could be looking at problems there in court," Coston said. "Especially being publicly on the record stating that there was an intent to not obey the ordinance."

Lee County Commissioners adopted the ordinance in 2015, and requires drivers to pay fees for registration and background checks.

Specht said that he does believe in vehicle-for-hire regulation, and hopes county commissioners come up with an ordinance that will be enforced.