90 Miles From Tyranny : My Uber got pulled over by the Denver police — and then things got really weird

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My Uber got pulled over by the Denver police — and then things got really weird

Colorado is the self-described “vanguard” of innovation. But that’s not really how it felt to me on Friday after the Denver police stopped the UberX I was riding in. Here’s the full story, with all of the bizarre twists and turns.

On Friday afternoon, I selected Uber to transport me from a meeting in downtown Denver to the airport. The Uber driver was on time, the car was clean, and I was offered a fresh bottle of water (It was pushing 95 degrees).

Within one mile of the airport, we were pulled over by the Denver Police. Two large SUVs were working in tandem to “radar” drivers — the standard speed-trap ploy.

My Uber driver was tagged and we were pulled over. There was no mention of speeding when the officer approached. The officer, who didn’t identify himself immediately, asked for the Uber driver’s license, registration and insurance (The driver had all of that). The officer then opened the backseat door where I was sitting and asked if I was paying for the ride.

I said what do you mean?
He asked again: Are you paying to have this person drive you to the airport?
I said yes. He then asked me how much I was being charged. I said I didn’t know the exact amount because I hadn’t reached the destination yet. He pushed the issue about the cost and then asked if this was an Uber ride. Both the driver and I said yes. Then the officer asked again how much the driver was charging me. I said the estimate was somewhere in the $35 to $45 range.

The officer then told us that “he was going to educate us on Colorado law today.” Uber was illegal in the state, he said.

The officer then left with the driver’s information.
I immediately started to research what the law was on my iPhone. I discovered an article written by Andy Vuong of The Denver Post from last month titled “Colorado First to Authorize Lyft and Uber’s Ridesharing Services.”

Governor John Hickenlooper was obviously proud of the new law, saying at the time that: ”Colorado is once again in the vanguard in promoting innovation and competition while protecting consumers and public safety.”
The officer then returned and asked the driver whether he had commercial insurance, or a cabbies license. The driver said that he had a cabbie license and gave it to the officer. The officer asked if the car was...


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