A Washington taxicab driver has permanently lost his right to drive as the result of findings that he repeatedly overcharged passengers, notably those he picked up at National Airport and drove to Washington or its suburbs.
An order by U.S. District Judge Aubrey E. Robinson Jr. against driver Isaac Sowemino is the strongest sanction ever achieved by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Commission, which regulates fares for cab trips that cross state lines in the Washington area -- including trips across the Potomac River from the airport.
On a motion by Gregory Paul Barth, the transit commission's general counsel, the judge "permanently enjoined [Sowemino]... from engaging in or performing" either interstate or local taxicab operations in the metropolitan area. The order noted that Sowemino did not oppose the commission's motion.
The ban on operating within the District of Columbia was an unusual one, reached, the court order said, because of Sowemino's "conduct contrary to the public interest... totally inconsistent with the licensing requirement" of the city that hackers be "of good moral character."
Sowemino had been accused by the transit commission of 18 incidents of overcharges, including a $33.80 charge for carrying one passenger from the airport to Bethesda that it found should have cost $15.50.
In a separate incident last February, Sowemino was given a 45-day suspension by the D.C. Hackers Review Board after a finding that he locked a passenger's suitcase in the trunk of his cab in an effort to extract an sexcessive fare.
Sowemino was the fourth hacker caught in an enforcement drive by the transit commission last fall. The others were disciplined but not barred.