A livery cab driver who unlawfully picked up four Panamanian tourists and held them in his vehicle as he fled a police chase will serve six months in jail.
Bhupinder Singh, 38, locked the doors to his Lincoln Town Car and threw the vehicle into reverse when a police officer patrolling New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport on Feb. 21 noticed the driver illegally soliciting customers, according to the Queens District Attorney's office.
As Singh zoomed off at a "high rate of speed," one of the tourists -- 17-year-old Aldo Sosa -- "grabbed the steering wheel and pulled it to the right, causing Singh’s vehicle to crash into a guardrail," the statement said.
The two adult passengers sustained minor injuries as Singh abandoned the vehicle and ran away on foot. Police subdued the suspect after a brief pursuit and an attempt to elude arrest.
“As this case clearly illustrates, unregulated taxis and unscrupulous drivers -- who are not properly licensed and who do not carry appropriate insurance -- put passengers at serious risk," District Attorney Richard Brown said in the statement.
Private cab drivers, however, don't seem to think that they're the only aggressors on the road. The Livery Base Owners group, which represents more than a hundred companies that dispatch livery cars in New York City, recently asked the Taxi and Limousine Commission to allow drivers to bring licensed guns to work as protection against potential aggressors and unruly passengers, the New York Daily News reported.
The trade group represents 128 companies that dispatch approximately 9,700 cars.
Singh pleaded guilty to a felony charge of unlawful imprisonment. In addition to jail time, he will serve five years’ probation.