Uber and Lyft Impersonators Beware
As of December 1, 2019, it is a class 2 misdemeanor to impersonate a transportation network company driver. That means impersonating a Lyft or Uber Driver can land you up to 60 days in jail, depending on your criminal record. Impersonation may occur by act, statement, or by displaying particular signage. If the impersonation occurs during the commission of a separate felony, such as an egregious assault, the impersonation can be charged as a class H felony. A class H felony can land an offender in prison for up to 39 months. This law, and others, were enacted as part of the recent “Passenger Protection Act.”
An amendment to our current assault statute enhances assaults on transportation network company drivers from class 2 misdemeanor to aggravated class 1 misdemeanors. This means hitting or throwing an item at an Uber/Lyft driver could lead to up to 150 days in jail.
The Passenger Protection Act also instituted several protective measures for riders. As of July 2020, when driving for the service, drivers will be required to display their license plate number in a position that is visible from the front of the vehicle. The current law does not require an actual second license plate. It does require display of the number in a font that is at least two inches in height. Failure for drivers to display this forward-facing plate number may be charged with an infraction and is punishable by a fine of $250.00.
Currently, drivers must already display signage of the company for which they are driving. The signage must be readable during daylight from at least 50 feet away. At night, it must be illuminated so that it is easily seen in darkness. Companies must also provide riders with a photograph of the driver, license plate information, vehicle description, and approximate map location.
Transportation Network Companies must now take steps to enhance their record keeping. They must maintain records of each service conducted for at least a year from the date of service. Similarly, records pertaining to drivers must be maintained for at least a year from when the driver ceases to work for the company. This information includes the drivers name and address on record at the date of separation.
There have been several unfortunate instances that have led to the implementation of these laws in North Carolina. In this past month alone, Uber has lost licensure in London over safety concerns. It should be noted that Uber has indicated that it will appeal this licensure decision. Regardless, transportation network companies do provide a valuable resource to our community. So long as they are properly regulated, the result should be safe and effective transportation for riders.
If you find yourself cited or charged with a Passenger Protection Act violation, know that the criminal defense team of Hatch, Little & Bunn, LLP is here to help you. We offer free consultations and are eager to guide you what otherwise could be a stressful trip. Give us a call if you need us. 919-856-3940.