WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - DC Councilmember Mary Cheh says her own daughter was technically kidnapped in a taxicab dispute over cash or credit.
"It was really egregious," Cheh said during the District Council's Transportation Committee annual review of the DC Taxicab Commission. "Said that she had to pay cash."
All DC cabs are required to either accept credit cards, or go out of service if their credit card machines are not working, Taxicab Commission Chair Ron Linton told Cheh during the hearing.
Cheh said when the driver demanded cash, she told him that she would get it from inside her home.
"Whereupon this driver locked all the doors," Cheh said during the hearing. "Drove many blocks away. And called the police saying he had a fare that was refusing to pay."
The hearing comes in the wake of a December WUSA9 investigation showing 20% of DC taxis tested refused to accept credit cards.
Linton told Cheh the driver could lose his license over locking her daughter inside.
Cheh said, technically, it could be a felony.
"If you transport somebody against his or her will under those circumstances, that actually meets the definition of kidnapping," Cheh, who is a professor of law at George Washington University said.
The taxi commission chair agreed and said the driver could lose his license over the act.
During our December investigation, Linton downplayed the problem, suggesting our sample size was too small.
In the hearing he acknowledged it is a significant problem and taxi violations have even plagued his own family.
Linton My daughter came down from Boston to visit and in four cab rides, generated four complaints. It's unbelievable.
Early in the hearing, Councilmember David Grosso spoke of his own family's experience.
Linton says he'll investigate Cheh's and Grosso's experiences, as he says his office does all complaints.
He also testified he is increasing enforcement and wants to add a mystery shopper to ensure drivers are doing their jobs.
A year-long WUSA9 investigation has also found taxis ignoring black passengers at rates ranging from 25% to 33%.
Under questioning from Cheh, Linton acknowledged during the hearing, that during his own testing of 100 cabs, 24 refused hailing passengers, in violation of District law.