2 Investigators: 1 Cabbie, 116 Tickets

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CHICAGO (CBS) — How do you know if your taxi driver is a safe driver?

You don’t.

The 2 Investigators have spent months reviewing the driving records of more than 1,000 cab owners.

The case of Simon Ohiri, who has one of the worst track records, underscores loopholes in city regulations that need to be closed to protect passengers and pedestrians.

Ohiri is licensed by the city, despite 116 traffic tickets for moving violations he has piled up since 1989. 

“I’m trying my best,” Ohiri told Zekman. “I’m a cab driver, and I’m on the street almost 15 hours every day. The fact that I make those mistakes, they are not purposeful.

Ohiri has also been sued five times by pedestrians who charge he hit them. The city is unaware of the claims because he’s not required to report them.

Renata Pasmanik, whose lawsuit is pending, was hit as she crossed the street at Canal and Monroe.

“The impact was pretty hard. He threw me about 20 feet in the air,” she said. “I fractured my back.”

“This could have been a whole lot worse,” her attorney, Robert Walsh, adds. “But first and foremost, it should never have happened in the first place.”

It also happened to Leslie Wilson as she crossed a street carrying her 3-year old grandchild, who, luckily, was not hurt.

Wilson had a broken leg. She says Ohiri later told the police he didn’t see her.

During the course of another lawsuit, Ohiri was asked in a deposition about his vision. He testified he had 20/20 vision in his right eye but has no vision at all in his left eye.

A city spokesperson says Ohiri passed his last vision test but will be asked to take another.

The Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, which licenses cab drivers, requires cabbies to bring in their record of traffic convictions from the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office each year when they renew their cab license.

But it never gets a driver’s complete driving history on tickets that have been dismissed in traffic court.

As the 2 Investigators previously disclosed, many of those traffic tickets are dismissed because police officers who wrote the tickets is not in court. A city Law Department spokesman said that’s often because they are on furlough, vacation or have to fulfill other assignments.

Ohiri has had 56 tickets dismissed. As a result, the Department of Consumer Services has required him to take safe driving classes eight times over the last 11 years.

“At what point do you learn how to drive safely?,” Zekman asked Ohiri.

He had no response.

Following CBS 2’s inquiries, the city has begun a top-to-bottom review of its outdated regulatory system.  

Effective immediately, cab drivers with convictions for three or more moving violations in the previous year will not be able to renew their license. They can reapply in 18 months.

Anyone who observes reckless driving by a cab driver is encouraged by the city to get the cab license number and report it by calling 311.

More from Pam Zekman
  • Mary

    take him off the road. he should not be driving ang car,let alone a cab with people in it.



  • tom sharp

    Example 456,890 of why Chicago is the city that doesn’t work at all!

  • concern citizen

    good reporting ch.2.more than half of cab drivers don’t know the rules of the road.some don’t understand and speak english.who and where all this bad cab drivers getting their licenses.also,why the city inspectors are not checking all the cabs,if they have a spare tire on the trunk.i took a cab and one of back tires ended w/flat,while going to o’hare.the guy w/116 and the rest of bad drivers should have all of their licenses revoke and never allow to drive any cab.

  • Roberta Waker

    Maybe it’s time for the police officers that write the tickets to be present in court. Pick a day for all the tickets they write and have the judge hear those cases FIRST. It’s time to change the laws and get these drivers off the road even if you have to sue them AND the cab company that hires them AND the State of Illinois for licensing them. Finally, if you can’t speak ENGLISH you DON’T GET A LICENSE. PERIOD.

    • Joe Patroni

      Roberta darling, you finally posted an inteligent comment on this cite that doesn’t invove a racist comment. You go girl I’m proud of you!!!

      • Lyndia

        That was so funny. It goes to show you something Joe. Even the biggest fool in the world, has a little sense sometimes.

  • Bob Hamilton

    Excellent reporting! “Effective immediately(?)… 3 convictions in a year’ is the cutoff point? Whoa! That’s so strict! Wow! Oh come on! Make it 12 a year please..Only 3 convictions a year? Using that strict standard would allow a lunatic like this guy to get even more tickets tan he has now!

  • Tunde Clay

    Chicago cab drivers work long hours on the road, an average of 12 hrs a day and earns $4.00/hr which is way below minimum wage.Compared to other major cities in the country,chicago cab ride is the cheapest. If u notice,there are not many white people or for that matter african americans driving cabs. The cab drivers rights are routinely violated,by passengers who will not like to pay,the police officers,the city,vis-a-vis the hearing kangaroo court at 400 west superior. You should check this out. Let cab drivers earn a living wage and u will see that these incidents will reduce.

    • Tanya Livingston

      You cabbies take cash under the table and under report your fares. Why hack when you are supposedly earning only 4/hr? So you only work for $40.00 per day. Right, I get it, you guys are humanitarians! Cabbies and gasoline dealers and the top audited businesses by the IRS for good reason

      • Tunde Clay

        Drive a cab for a day and lets see how u like it.

  • Ivory soap

    Forget their driving skills. I have more issues on their hygiene.

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