A recent article in The New York Times brought to light a little-known New York City Regulation that prohibits a person from hailing or procuring a taxi for another not in his or her social company. The article relayed the tale of Juan Bannister who, after flagging down a taxi, placing the stranger’s luggage in the trunk, and receiving a $1.50 tip, was promptly arrested at the scene and charged with the unlawful hailing of a taxicab. Mr. Bannister pleaded guilty to the charges against him and received a sentence of seven days in jail, including time served.
I looked up the law, and found it in New York City Rules, Title 34, § 4-04(5), which reads: “Hailing taxis. Unless asked to do so without advance solicitation (direct or implied), no person shall hail or procure for another, not in his or her social company, a taxi or other passenger vehicle.”
Then to my surprise I noticed subsection (3) of the regulation is the anti-“Squeegee” law, and that the regulation prohibits some other activities as well. For example, did you know that it is against the law for a person, other than an occupant or prospective occupant of a passenger vehicle on a street, shall open, hold open, or close, or offer to open, hold open, or close any door of the vehicle? (Doormen don’t worry, the regulation explicitly exempts you.)
This regulation was apparently designed to thwart scams where people would hold a taxi door open for an unsuspecting tourist and then demand a tip or even upfront payment in full for the cab ride. The passenger, at the end of the ride, would learn that the fare had to be paid to the taxi driver and the payment to the helper was throwing away money.
It is also illegal for a person shall stand in the roadway to talk with or sell or offer to sell anything to an occupant of any vehicle. So you newspaper salesmen had better get out of my way.
If you want to know where it says that it is illegal to hitchhike and to cross roadways other than in the crosswalk, study this regulation.
And then there’s the almost incredible regulation: “Pedestrians shall not cross in front of oncoming vehicles. “ Do we have to be told that?!!!
They say that ignorance of the law is no excuse. But who has time to read these things?
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