Ride share apps have been making the news as a more convenient, safer alternatives to taxis. Unfortunately for the drivers, many local governments haven't taken kindly to the explosion of these apps and have been doing everything they can to stop them. Here's what you need to know about the law before you decide if ride sharing is right for you.
Can You Actually Be Arrested?
Some cities actually are arresting drivers who drive for popular ride share apps. The most common charge is illegally operating a taxi without a license.
Ride share apps have a habit of not obtaining the traditional licenses that taxi drivers are required to obtain. However, most local governments have decided that their taxi licensing requirements apply to ride share drivers as well.
Depending on the jurisdiction, driving without a taxi license may be considered a misdemeanor crime carrying possible jail time or it may be a civil violation with a substantial fine.
Can Your Car Be Impounded?
Some cities are also impounding the cars of ride share app drivers. Their logic is that the car is being used in the commission of an illegal act and can therefore fairly be impounded. In cities with the strictest taxi laws, impounding may even be required when only a fine and not a criminal charge is issued against the driver.
What About Insurance?
Proper insurance coverage has been a big issue in ride shares with the app companies saying their coverage only applies when a paying passenger is in the car and the drivers' insurance carriers saying the policy doesn't apply at any time while the app is on. Some private auto insurers are even canceling policies altogether.
Drivers must ensure that they have adequate insurance. In addition to needing liability protection in case of an accident or other lawsuit, not having valid insurance is a crime in many states.
What to Do If You're Stopped
The best thing to do if you're stopped is to decline to answer any questions and say you won't answer without speaking to a lawyer. Do not consent to letting police look at your phone or search your car.
Do not lie about why your passenger is in your car instead of simply remaining silent. This lie could be used against you if police later subpoena records from the ride share company the contradict your lie.
To learn more about your legal rights and responsibilities as a ride share driver in your area, contact a law firm like Medeiros & Associates.