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Key West Police: Don't Share This Ride

Graphic by Uber. Color darkened by WLRN for clarity.

Key West police detectives recently conducted an undercover sting operation they called "Operation Safe Hire" targeting Uber drivers. Two drivers were cited with violating city ordinances that require drivers of vehicle for hire to have a permit from the city and for the vehicles themselves to have a special license.

The maximum penalty for each violation is a fine of up to $500 and up to 60 days in jail.

Uber is a ride-sharing company that has recently expanded throughout the state. In a response to an email inquiry, an Uber spokeswoman said 82 percent of Floridians now have access to Uber. Riders download an app and provide credit card information. Drivers are paid by the company and can choose which passengers to take.

In one Key West case, two undercover officers used the Uber app to get a ride from T.G.I.Friday's on North Roosevelt Boulevard to the Rum Barrel on Front Street. The driver charged them $11 and was then stopped and cited. In the other, the undercover officers got a ride from T.G.I.Friday's to Sandy's Cafe on White Street. That ride cost $8.

"Uber stands by driver partners, and will reimburse the costs related to unjust citations," wrote Kaitlin Durkosh in an email from the company. "Uber is an innovative new transportation alternative, that didn't exist a few years ago. We welcome the opportunity to work with local and state officials on a regulatory framework that makes sense for ridesharing."

A spokeswoman for the city of Key West was unable to provide comment about why the city targeted the company in the undercover operation.

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