Spanish-speaking Uber driver Carmen Hechevarria received a ticket last week while she was picking up a passenger at Miami International Airport, for breaking a Florida law that demands service drivers have a certain amount of English proficiency.
Apparently an officer at the airport had approached Hechevarria and began to give her instructions on where she can stand in her car.
As the officer spoke to her, it became apparent that she didn’t understand him.
“She looked at me like she did not understand me,” says the officer, who then asked a colleague to translate. “The more he spoke to her, the more he realized she could not speak or understand English.” A cellphone video obtained by Telemundo 51 shows an officer issuing a $250 ticket for violation of a Miami-Dade County rule, approved in May 2016, requiring for-hire drivers to “be able to communicate in the English language.”
Drivers should know some English in order to “understand basic directions” or in case of an emergency, a rep for the Miami-Dade Department of Transportation tells NBC Miami, though 73% of county residents speak a language other the English at least part of the time. The rep adds some 40 drivers have been ticketed under the rule. But “I felt discriminated against,” Hechevarria says in Spanish, claiming she understood some of the officer’s remarks. An Uber rep stresses that the county rule requires drivers “to communicate in English. It doesn’t say they have to speak English.”
Unfortunately, this brilliant law that protects US citizens is going to be overridden on July 1st.
The Florida state government is passing a law that would prohibit state laws from regulating the car service industry.