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Uber vs. The Dallas Taxi Cartel, with some DWI angles thrown in

DMN reports on the ongoing battle of Uber vs. the local taxi cartel. Uber is an app that lets you quickly connect to a taxi cab. It’s easy to use and has quickly gained a following in major cities across the US. Unfortunately for Uber their program is a threat to the Dallas taxi cartel. Instead of learning to compete with Uber and offer a better service, the Dallas Taxi Cartel is seeking to cash in on their influence and make Uber illegal. That’s right, of all the problems we have in Dallas the City Council is wasting time trying to make a taxi app illegal.

Why would the powers that be entertain such an idea. Easy? The Taxi Cartel makes profits by limiting competition. The cab companies uses these profits to “influence” council members and lobby for more anti-competitive regulations. For example, Dallas has an artificial limit on the number of taxis, this means the market can’t respond to demand and the consumer pays more.

So how much influence does the Taxi Cartel have in Dallas? DPD sent the vice out to arrest cab drivers who offered rides through Uber. Read that again, arrest cab drivers for the “crime” of giving rides to people who use an app. Fortunately for Dallas citizens the Vice Squad enforces mostly consensual crimes like prostitution, so their absence isn’t much of a threat to public safety.

Now for a DWI angle, this is a defense blog after all. Whenever someone wants to pass a liberty destroying law they usually invoke the “if it saves one life” fallacy, the idea that hypothetically saving one life is worth any cost to a free society. What you don’t see is the same concern for Uber’s taxi app. There is a great possibility that more cab rides will equate to less drinking drivers. Dallas has some public transportation, but not enough to serve everyone who drinks. Anything that breaks down the barriers between cab and drinking driver could make the roads. And in this context restraining city government will save lives. So why isn’t the City Council embracing Uber?

The longer I practice law the more I see Texas alcohol related fatality number as a result of bad choices by government at all levels. From our inane zoning laws that zone bars far away from homes, to the dearth of public transportation, to restricting apps like Uber. DWI employs a lot of government workers. Entire industries (interlock) are built on the fact that Texas is designed to maximize the need for drinkers to drive. The State and local government makes millions in fines, fees, and surcharges. I’m not sure the State really wants to reduce drinking and driving, they have too much riding on the status quo. Uber is a threat to that system, and that trumps all other concerns. Dallas is The Wire.