Grandmother Cited for Driving for Uber in Portsmouth Wants a Trial
In October, 63-year-old Stephanie Franz was cited for driving for Uber in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Franz, a grandmother, now wants to fight these citations at trial.
A report from the Portsmouth Herald says the “Uber Grandma” was the first person to be cited for driving Uber in the city. According to the report, Uber is not registered with the city of Portsmouth, and hasn’t complied with a transportation ordinance requiring proof that drivers have passed background checks and are covered by a commercial insurance policy.
Franz told the Herald she received a background check while she was a school bus driver, a job that she’s taken a leave of absence from. She appeared in court yesterday, turning down a plea deal that would have lowered the dollar amount of her fines for unregistered Uber driving. She is charged with four offenses that violate Portsmouth’s transportation ordinance. The Herald reports that Franz is pleading not guilty, and will fight her citations at trial.
Franz started driving for Uber this June.
“It got me out of the house at nighttime,” she told Boston. “I didn’t like sitting around watching TV all the time.”
Other Uber drivers in Portsmouth have been issued warnings, Franz is the only one with citations. Another driver, Christopher David, founded a group called Free Uber to protest the ride-hailing app’s ban. He says taxis patrol for rogue Uber drivers, collecting their license plate information for the police. David says the ordinance is meant to keep Portsmouth safe, but is doing the opposite, explaining taxi drivers have prevented him from pulling out of parking spots.
“I personally have been blocked in by taxi drivers that dangerously obstruct traffic,” he told Boston. “I’ve collected stories from a number of drivers who have experienced the same thing. It’s a form of harassment.”
Franz attests she’s also been blocked in.
“One of the Portsmouth policemen had to ask the taxi driver to move,” she says.
While a trial date has not yet been set, Franz says she won’t stop driving for Uber. She says the company is paying her fines and legal fees and calls avoiding the police “a game of cat and mouse.”
“I grew up in the 60s,” she says. “I got a little bit of defiance still in me, I guess.”
Read the full Portsmouth Herald report on Seacostonline.com.
This story has been updated to include statements from Stephanie Franz and Christopher David.