Commercial drivers in Jesmond Dene and the rest of California are held at a higher standard compared to other drivers. DUI laws that apply to commercial drivers are stricter, and obtaining a CDL isn’t easy. In recent years, DUI laws are being amended to address the explosion of ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft. The new regulations seek to hold the taxi, limo, and rideshare drivers to the same legal standard as other commercial drivers. The San Diego DUI Attorney team will discuss ridesharing DUI to assist you in understanding the offense.
Overview of DUI by Ridesharing, Taxi or Limo
California VC 23152(e) is the statute that sets forth DUI laws for rideshare and taxi drivers. These drivers are considered to be DUI if:
- They operate the vehicle at a BAC of .04 percent or higher
- When a paying passenger is in the car
Take note that before the adoption of the Assembly Bill 2687, rideshare drivers were subject to the same blood alcohol level limit of .08% as non-commercial drivers. It means that Uber or taxi drivers were free to drive while under the influence if the BAC was less than the lawful limit of .08%.
Commercial drivers, on the other hand, have a lower legal limit of .04%, according to VC 23152(d). In case you are not aware who commercial drivers are, they are people who drive vehicles that require Class A or B licenses. The law prohibits these drivers from driving when they have a blood-alcohol level of .04% or more. But before these changes were made on 1st July 2018, rideshare drivers were allowed to drive non-commercial vehicles that require Class C licenses or use their personal vehicles.
After the amendments, any uber or limo driver who operates a car with a BAC of .04% or higher when a paying passenger is in the vehicle will be subject to DUI charges. If there is no passenger in the car, the driver can only face DUI charges if the BAC is .08% or more.
On top of lowering the BAC of rideshare and taxi drivers from .08 percent or more to .04% or higher, California legislators have enacted another law. The statute seeks to have background checks conducted on potential rideshare, limo, or tax drivers. The new legislation aims to prevent these drivers from operating if they have had previous convictions for a DUI, domestic violence, or misdemeanor assault or battery within the last seven years. This means that if you are arrested for DUI and sentenced, you may not operate a rideshare vehicle for seven years. Drivers with old or new DUI convictions and rely on ridesharing vehicles to make money are going to be significantly affected by the new law.
Commonly Used Rideshare Companies in Jesmond Dene
There are several taxi, limo, or ridesharing companies that operate in California. These are:
Lyft is one of the two major ridesharing companies in the U.S. When it started, Lyft was a long-distance ridesharing platform serving college students. Today, the company has a fleet of freelance drivers, and it provides several tiers of rides ranging from elementary to luxury.
Uber is the largest rideshare company worldwide. The platform was founded in 2009 and offers various tier rides and does food delivery. Take note that if you want to become a uber driver, there are specific requirements. You must be aged 21 years or older, have a valid driver’s license, registration, and evidence of insurance. You will also undergo a DUI background check that lasts for between five to seven days. The platform also works with Checkr, which checks your criminal history for various crimes. If you have a criminal conviction in the last seven years, you are not eligible to become a freelance driver for the company.
The company is not as famous as Lyft and Uber. However, it is popular because of its target market. It offers ridesharing services for children. When hiring, the company requires potential drivers to have a background in childcare to promote the safety of its passengers who are children.
Reasons for the Change of Legal Limit for Ridesharing, Limo or Taxi Drivers
Before 1st July 2018, rideshare drivers were regulated by the same BAC legal limit as non-commercial drivers. The limit has been lowered to .04% or higher like that of commercial drivers because even though a taxi is a non-commercial vehicle if it has a paying passenger, it becomes a commercial vehicle hence subject to DUI by commercial vehicle laws.
The main objective for the changes is the realization that taxi, limo, or drivers for hire pose a massive threat to the public if they operate their vehicles when drunk or drugged while carrying a passenger for hire.
When people are going out drinking or partying, they are encouraged to use taxis, limos, or rideshare vehicles to avoid DUI. It will be a violation of this trust if a rideshare or limo driver decides to drive a passenger from one point to another when under the influence. The new law, therefore, seeks to make these drivers more responsible in the manner they drive their paying passengers.
Also, it’s essential to understand that even though your BAC level is less than .04%, it’s not enough to prove that you were not impaired. The law prohibits people from operating a vehicle if they are not able to drive safely because of any amount of alcohol or drugs in the body.
Elements of a DUI by Taxi or Ridesharing Driver
Based on VC 23152(e), it is illegal for an individual whose weight of alcohol in the blood is .04 percent or more to drive a vehicle when carrying a passenger for hire. In this situation, you will be presumed to have had a .04% or more by weight of alcohol in your blood at the time of driving if the chemical test results administered within three hours after the traffic stop shows your BAC was .04 percent or above.
The prosecutor handling your case must demonstrate that:
- Your physical and mental abilities are impaired to the extent you cannot drive cautiously the way a sober person could
- The weight of alcohol in your blood was at least .04% if you had a passenger for hire at the time of the arrest. If you didn’t have a paying passenger, the prosecutor would need to demonstrate that your BAC was at least .08%
Your blood alcohol level in these cases is determined by the blood or breath test results taken within a window of three hours after driving. Take note that there is a considerable difference in DUI by ridesharing in terms of elements when you have a passenger for hire and when you don’t have one.
For instance, if you are a rideshare driver in Jamacha and after a few drinks in the evening, you decide to make some money before going home. You head to a pickup point and get your passenger. On your way to the passenger’s destination, an officer stops you for speeding or running a red light. After the stop, the officer makes some observations and realizes that there is an alcohol odor coming from your breath. This gives him or her a reasonable suspicion to arrest you for DUI. The officer then takes you to a police station where a DUI breath or blood test is administered, and the tests register a BAC of .07%. Under these circumstances, you will be charged and sentenced for a DUI by ridesharing because your BAC was at least .04%.
But if the traffic stop happened on your way to the pickup point, it means the passenger for hire was not already in your vehicle. Even if the test results register .07% or more, by weight of alcohol in your bloodstream, you will not be guilty under VC 23152(e) DUI by ridesharing. But you may be subject to DUI charges as per VC 23152, even if your BAC is less than the legal limit of .08%. The statute makes it illegal to operate a car with any measurable number of alcoholic beverages in your body.
Consequences for a Conviction for a DUI by Ridesharing Drivers
In the event of sentencing for a non-injury DUI by ridesharing in California, you will be subject to the following penalties:
- Court fines and penalty valuation fees of between 390 to 1,000 dollars and half a year jail sentence for a 1st offense misdemeanor DUI
- A second misdemeanor DUI conviction will subject you to four days to one-year jail incarceration and a fine ranging between $390 to $1,000
- A jail sentence of one hundred and twenty days to 12 months. Additionally, you will get court fines of a minimum of 390 dollars and a maximum of 1000 dollars for a 3rd offense misdemeanor DUI conviction
- A minimum of sixteen and a maximum of thirty-six months in jail and fines averaging between 390 to 1000 dollars for a felony DUI sentence
- One hundred and twenty hours to twelve months jail sentence and a fine of $390 to $5,000 for a misdemeanor DUI with injuries
- A felony DUI causing injury will attract potential penalties of 16 months to sixteen years in prison or fines ranging from $1,015 to $5,000
If you review the above penalties for DUI by ridesharing drivers, you will realize they are similar to those of a DUI by non-commercial drivers.
Apart from the above penalties, a DUI sentencing may have additional consequences. Because part of the penalties involves driver’s license suspension or revocation, it means you might not operate the rideshare vehicle for the duration of the suspension. You would have to look for alternative sources of income if ridesharing driving was your only job.
Also, take note that the conviction will appear in your record for seven years. Renewing your license with such a criminal record will not be easy, so you may as well say goodbye to your career as a taxi, limo, or rideshare driver. Ridesharing companies will not be keen to hire a driver with a prior DUI because they will be fined for doing so. A felony DUI sentence may also deny you the opportunity to exercise your voting rights or possess a firearm.
DMV License Suspension for DUI by Ridesharing
In addition to the criminal penalties, the Department of Motor Vehicles may impose a license suspension or revocation or require you to attend mandatory DUI school. Some of the administrative consequences you will be subjected to upon sentencing for this offense are:
- At least six months and no more than ten months of license revocation and three or nine months of DUI school for a 1st misdemeanor DUI offender
- Two years suspension plus eighteen or thirty months of DUI school for a second offense misdemeanor DUI
- Three years of driver’s permit revocation plus thirty months of DUI program for a third offense misdemeanor DUI
- A minimum of one year and a maximum of three years of license suspension and 3, 18, or 30 months of DUI school for a misdemeanor DUI with injury sentencing
- Five years of license suspension and an additional 18 or 30 months of DUI school
- Four years of license revocation plus eighteen or thirty months of DUI school for a felony DUI sentence
Whenever you are facing DUI by ridesharing driver charges, you should hire a Jesmond Dene DUI attorney. The attorney will ensure you retain your job and continue making money as a rideshare driver. The attorney will help you with both the criminal and administrative legal proceedings.
Legal Defenses for a DUI by Rideshare, Taxi or Limo Driver
The majority of people out there facing DUI by ridesharing charges think that fighting the charges is costly, and even if they invest the money, they may end up losing the case. It is wrong to adopt this kind of mentality without speaking to a Jesmond Dene DUI attorney. When you retain the legal services of a Jesmond Dene DUI attorney, they will assess your case to find possible strategies or theories that may be used to contest the charges. The defenses are:
You Were Not Carrying a Passenger for Hire
There are many ridesharing apps exploding in the market, making it difficult to prove the relationship between the driver and the passenger. You may have a passenger in the ridesharing vehicle but on a personal level. If the prosecutor lacks evidence to prove that the other occupant of the car was a passenger for hire, your Jesmond Dene DUI attorney can argue that the person was riding based on a personal relationship and not a paying passenger.
That way, if your BAC was at least .04% or higher, you will be acquitted of DUI by ridesharing driver charges. The attorney will argue that you should not be held at a lower blood alcohol level threshold reserved for commercial drivers because, during the arrest, you drove as a non-commercial driver. Take note that although you may not be convicted for ridesharing DUI, the prosecutor may charge you with DUI of alcohol or drugs of any amount.
Challenging the Initial Traffic Stop
California law has set forth procedures and guidelines that police must adhere to when making a traffic stop or DUI arrest. If these guidelines are not respected, your attorney may challenge the stop and have all the evidence collected during the illegal stop and arrest suppressed. The proof will include the chemical test that you submitted.
The Chemical Tests Were Not Administered as Provided by the Law
The majority of DUI by ridesharing are based on chemical test results. But these tests are not always infallible. Your attorney may argue that how the samples were collected, transported, and stored was not proper; hence the results are inaccurate. The test results will, therefore, be excluded from the case leaving the prosecutor with weak evidence. They will not be ready to continue to trial meaning the charges may be dismissed or the charges reduced.
Dry Reckless as a Plea Bargain to DUI Charges
It is possible for you as a rideshare driver to avoid the severe penalties of a DUI conviction. One of the ways you can do this is with a dry reckless plea deal. Dry reckless is outlined by VC 23103 as driving a car on a highway in wanton disdain for the safety of the public or property. Although a sentence for this offense may result in jail time, it doesn’t involve a mandatory DUI school. Some of the advantages of this plea bargain are:
- You get a shorter jail sentence
- Lower court fines and penalty assessment costs
- A shorter probation duration
- No mandatory driver’s license suspension
- Won’t deny you the opportunity to work as ridesharing, taxi or limo driver
- It won’t increase the penalties for a subsequent DUI conviction
If you assess the above advantages, you will realize that taking a dry reckless charge in a plea bargain is an excellent idea. There will be no need to worry about losing your income-generating career. The plea deal will not come without legal guidance from a profession, which is why you should have your Jesmond Dene DUI attorney from the beginning of the case to the end.
Find the Right DUI Defense Attorney Near Me
If you are facing DUI by rideshare, taxi, or limo in Jesmond Dene, call San Diego DUI Attorney at 619-535-7150. Our attorneys will use their knowledge on DUI laws and rideshare drivers to get a positive outcome in your case.