UBER Grandma Interviewed After Facing Down $6,500 in Fines for Civil Disobedience

Tuesday morning the saga of UBER Grandma came to a close at Portsmouth district court. Stephanie Franz’ trial was scheduled for seven tickets she’s received since October of 2015 for the horrible crime of driving people places without a government permission slip. Rather than thank her for providing the service of getting drunk people home alive (and stopping them from driving themselves home drunk), the “City of Portsmouth” gang decided to ticket her seven times for a total of $6,500! $500 for the first ticket, $1000 each for the rest.

Check out this excellent interview of this courageous civil disobedience activist, recorded outside Portsmouth district court, then keep reading for details on the case:

The city’s argument for threatening the sweet grandmother and other UBER drivers with such ridiculous fines was the claim that more stringent background checks than what UBER provides are necessary to keep passengers safe. However, this argument is obvious garbage, as the city only regulates drivers who charge for their services. If a convicted murderer were to offer rides for free, the regulations wouldn’t apply. Portsmouth’s anti-ride-sharing regulations, passed in Summer of 2015, were created to protect the existing taxi oligopoly. That’s what regulations are really for – not to protect consumers as the government claims, but to protect the established businesses from innovative competition.

Indeed, the cabbies in Portsmouth were the loudest group in support of the regulations. UBER Grandma was also targeted by those same cab drivers. They had been witnessed boxing her in to the curb as she was picking up riders in downtown Portsmouth and even smashed out her tail-light. They also appeared at government hearings in Portsmouth and Concord advocating for more government control of the industry.

Despite the constant attacks by both the police and the cabbies, UBER Grandma was not deterred. She kept driving in civil disobedience to the city’s protectionist ordinances, knowing she had harmed no one, and in fact had helped many people get home safely. She’s a hero for continuing to stand up for her right to do business without asking for permission!

Derrick J and UBER Grandma

Derrick J and UBER Grandma

Ultimately the police stopped ticketing her this Spring because New Hampshire’s state legislature passed a statute that created a uniform set of regulations for the entire state. Since NH is not a “home rule” state, this invalidated the ordinances that Portsmouth had on the books.

However, the statutory changes didn’t nullify the seven tickets that UBER Grandma was facing. When they were written, the Portsmouth ordinances were legal. Her trial date had been continued multiple times as the city gang hoped to drag out the matter to persuade her to plead guilty and just pay up. They were almost successful when they recently offered to settle the tickets for $600 and a guilty plea. She ultimately refused and demanded her day in court.

That day was Tuesday. David Jurist and I drove across the state to attend, leaving Keene at 5:50am and meeting up with Derrick J, who now lives in Portsmouth. Upon entering the court and setting up our cameras, the court clerk lied to me in an attempt to intimidate me into not recording the judge. I refused to back down and when judge Gardner came in she said nothing at all about the cameras. Some had wondered why the video clip I posted yesterday was so short. That’s because there was no hearing. The bailiff had said he expected her trial to be continued, but he was wrong.

Turns out, the case was settled via an “administrative finding”, not a guilty plea. Basically, Stephanie’s attorney (for which UBER was paying the bill) pointed out that she’d likely be found guilty and they agreed to settle the case for $645 (for which UBER will pay). However, it’s not totally over yet. Once I informed Stephanie of the idea of motioning the court to allow the payment to be made to a local charity, she loved it and her attorney agreed to try it. It’s worked in Keene, Manchester, and Concord courts over the years multiple times. Even if UBER ends up paying the fine to the state, they got far more than $645 worth of publicity out of it. I’d call that a win. Stay tuned here to Free Keene for any updates on this case.

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27 Comments

  1. she took the plea. how did she face down anyone?

  2. She knew what the law was. She chose to break it. She is not courageous but chose the wrong path which is going to cost her a lot of money

  3. She did not plead guilty. Did you bother to read the article or watch the video?

  4. She did not plead guilty. Did you bother to read the article or watch the video?

  5. Jumping Jacks Move to Boston, they love you kind there.

  6. Jumping Jacks Jacks, Jacks, Jacks.  If you had watched the video or read the article, you’d see that civil disobedience has costed zero money and worked out quite well for Uber Grandma.
    I see you are regressing back to your old habits again.  Heartbreaking.

  7. I’d like to see Uber Grandma go face-to-face with No-Cameras-Clerk 🙂

    Re yesterday’s video clip, I thought you were going to show that the Judge had enough time to notice the cameras and not say anything about them.  That would have taken a few more seconds. No biggie.

  8. I’m very glad to see this result. I work, full-time, in Portsmouth, in an office, but I’m also a part-time Uber driver. When Portsmouth first made Uber illegal, I thought they must be joking, the need is so strong. I didn’t pursue driving, because I’m already employed and it’s just extra money for me. I chose to not drive until it’s resolved. An Uber driver does not know their destination until they have already picked up their passenger and started the trip. It was just too easy to end up driving in Portsmouth. Each time I dropped off, I had to drive away out of town, but would just end up there again. It wasn’t worth the hassle to me. Once the State of New Hampshire equalized ride-share in New Hampshire, I returned to Uber driving a great deal. After all the dust has settled, and this woman has had her day in court, I want to come full-circle and say that what she did was the right thing. I drive Friday & Saturday nights, in the seacoast area, and everyone, of all ages, who want to go into Portsmouth to have dinner and drinks, uses Uber. Many people are not comfortable using the taxi service. When I think of all the people who would have “taken a chance”, I know she did the right thing. People tell me, even if they have to go far, and pay for Uber, it’s much cheaper than a DWI. Recently, I read about how steeply taxi drivers are charged to drive in Portsmouth. That’s what the city council should have been re-evaluating all along, making taxi & ride-sharing more possible for everyone, not more impossible. Portsmouth, people are coming, all year ’round for your beautiful city. Keep up! 
    Jeanette Gagne-Radan, Uber Partner, Somersworth, NH

  9. If you’ve never used Uber before, use UberGoJeanette for $20 off your first trip. 
    If you’d like to apply to be an Uber driver, please use UberGoJeanette as a code to apply, I’d receive a small bonus for the referral. 
    If you do sign up to be an Uber partner using my code, please feel free to email me at ubergojeanette@gmail.com
    Thank you! Jeanette

  10. cjamesb88 Jumping Jacks No, why don’t you?

  11. Intrigare Jumping Jacks No, she was offered a reprieve but did not take it. She said she wants her day in court. She is facing major fines. I will possibly cost her a lot of $$$$$$ if she loses her case.

  12. Jumping Jacks Intrigare Now Jacks, you’re letting your imagination run away with you again.  No problem as long as everyone is happy 🙂

  13. Jumping Jacks Intrigare You’ve been trolling here long enough to understand the purpose behind her defiance, Jacks. Having the freedom to operate her business without government interference is worth this risk to her. Everyone else here seems to understand this. Yet you’re always two steps behind the rest of us. What will it take to dig you out of this rut?

  14. Jumping Jacks

    You really dug that hall monitor gig you had in 6th grade didn’t you ?

  15. Drac Vermell Jumping Jacks Intrigare True Drac, but it appears that there is no risk to Uber Grandma, since Uber is footing the bill.

  16. Free Keene “Basically, Stephanie’s attorney (for which UBER was paying the bill) pointed out that she’d likely be found guilty and they agreed to settle the case for $645″…….I might be missing something.

  17. yay…. good job lady;thanks for the video

  18. Drac Vermell Jumping Jacks Intrigare Peaches, you are the freekeene troll. I am two steps a head of you.

  19. Intrigare Drac Vermell Jumping Jacks Uber says they will flip the bill. They can change their minds very quickly.

  20. WEEDA CLAUS Jumping Jacks Not like you dig your freekeene troll job.

  21. Jumping Jacks Intrigare Drac Vermell And just how cross will you be if they don’t, Jacks?

  22. This video was just another ploy from Ian to use an older lady who is trying to stick it to the man. He uses normal people in his videos to try and make himself look and act if he himself is normal, which is not the case. He is far from normal on every level.

  23. Jumping Jacks Drac Vermell Intrigare Jacks, Jacks, Jacks, you couldn’t even convince a small audience that you were an expert on drug addiction without giving yourself away. And this was in spite of having the internet’s entire repository of knowledge on the subject quite literally at your fingertips! I’m sorry Jacks, but based on this fact alone it’s pretty safe to say who’s trailing behind whom here.

  24. Milwaukee Socket wrenches and knives, Milwaukee darling. Socket wrenches and knives.

  25. By not letting bullies deter her from driving for Uber?

  26. Intrigare there was another half hour of boring court video I could have included.

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