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Uber Sting in the City of Charleston?

The Post & Courier

Regarding the “Uber Driver Sting”, it is illegal in the City of Charleston to offer a taxi service for compensation unless you have had the proper inspections and license. However, if you offer someone a safe ride home and accept only a thank you for payment, you will not be in violation of any ordinances. The applicable City ordinance is Section 31-9, “No taxicab or limousine shall be licensed to do business in or use the streets of the city unless there shall have been obtained from the city council a certificate of public convenience and necessity therefor.” I realize that Uber has offered to cover any fine a driver incurs in the use of it’s program and that’s great. However, my primary concern from a legal perspective is not the $1,049 fine, but rather the personal liability a driver may incur should that driver be involved in an accident while providing a ride for hire. The fine for that could potentially be in the millions of dollars and I doubt Uber will send a team of lawyers to your rescue. AJ Franklin, an owner of Charleston Green Taxi, said “it’s an issue of public safety because Uber drivers have not been properly vetted by authorities, and they aren’t backed with commercial auto insurance.” If you believe that then I’d like to talk to you about purchasing some nice vacation property in Chernobyl. The cab companies would make a bigger fuss if Uber was a non-profit corporation  offering to connect humanitarian drivers and those with the need for a ride home because that would take even more money off the table for them.  Theoretically that could destroy the taxi business as we know it. As DUI defense is a large part of my practice, I may as well jump on the bandwagon with the taxi companies, but I value the safety of others over my paycheck. After all, what is a greater issue of “public safety”… Uber or drunk drivers?

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