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Uber Drivers Risk Ticket to Ride

The City of Boise made it clear that Uber drivers could face a misdemeanor citation if they took payment.

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UPDATE:

Boise officials confirm that they have begun citing Uber drivers operating in the city limits and charging fares for rides.

Following a cease-and-desist order and warning that they would issue misdemeanor citations for charging fares in Boise without Uber coming to an operating agreement with city officials, code enforcement officers have handed citations to drivers after riding with the app-driven ride share company.

The officers wore plain clothes, requested an Uber ride and, when they were charged a fare, the officers issued the citations.

ORIGINAL STORY:

It was all smiles in October 2014 when Uber hosted a Boise launch party, introducing its app-driven service to the Treasure Valley.

"The three things I get are: 'What is Uber?' 'I've heard of Uber. Is it available yet?' and 'Thank God you guys are here," Uber spokesman Michael Amodeo told Boise Weekly at the time.

By now, many Boiseans have heard of Uber—if not as consumers, then from the Dec. 31 headlines declaring that the city of Boise had slapped the company with a cease-and-desist order.

"We had an agreement with them that the city of Boise wouldn't stand in their way in offering a free service as long as we were working toward a long-term solution where Uber could operate on a fee-for-service basis," Mike Journee, spokesman for Boise Mayor Dave Bieter told BW, adding that city officials had met with Uber as recently as Dec. 23. "But there was no indication that they would start charging. They obviously decided that an agreement wasn't a priority for them."

Simply put, the city made it clear that Uber drivers could face a misdemeanor citation if they took payment. Nonetheless, Uber drivers defied the cease-and-desist, taking customers and fares on New Year's Eve.

"We understand that the drivers are trying to make a living," Journee said. "In order to be fair, we understood that there would probably be a news cycle in order to get the word out."

That news cycle worked overtime, as every media outlet trumpeted the story while social media lit up with comments.

"I'm glad they're holding Uber to basic standards," wrote Josh McDaniel on BW's Facebook page.

"Good luck stopping them," countered Taylor Newbold.

Journee said other cities have used code enforcement officers to hold Uber accountable.

"The City Clerk's office will be the lead agency on this," he said.

An Uber spokesman said the company was committed to working with city officials to craft regulations but would stand by its drivers against what it called "unjust" citations.