Our firm has historically advised the best way to avoid getting arrested for OVI/DUI is to have a plan in place and to stick to that plan once you’ve started drinking. For many people, that plan involves having someone else behind the wheel for your trip home, most likely in the form of an UBER, Lyft, or a taxi (remember those?). As more and more people turn to these ride sharing apps, not only for transportation, but as a source of extra money, an important question arises: What happens when the people we rely on to help avoid an OVI/DUI charge get charged with one themselves?
Uber Drivers & OVI
UBER runs background checks on all potential drivers, but they are somewhat vague about what could disqualify an applicant. They say “major driving violations” as well as a “recent history of minor driving violations” may disqualify a potential driver. It seems obvious an OVI/DUI would be considered a “major traffic violation”. Therefore, as long as an OVI/DUI is on your record, you may be disqualified for driving for UBER. Under Ohio law, OVI/DUI is not expungable, which means it stays on your record forever, permanently disqualifying you from driving for UBER.
What happens if a current UBER driver is charged with OVI/DUI? UBER states pending violations disqualify drivers “unless and until such charges are resolved in a driver’[s]… favor.” In most cases, people charged with OVI would consider it a victory to have the charge reduced. For UBER drivers, however, having an OVI reduced to Physical Control or Reckless Operation may still be considered a “major traffic violation”, leading to disqualification. For UBER drivers, OVIs may be an all-or-nothing proposition.
Lyft Drivers & OVI
Lyft is much more explicit regarding what they look for when deciding whether to allow someone to drive for them. Lyft says the following may lead to disqualification:
1. More than three moving violations in the past three years (accidents, speeding violations, etc.);
2. A major moving violation in the past three years (driving under suspension, reckless operation, etc);
3. An OVI/DUI or drug-related driving violation in the last seven years;
4. Driving-related convictions in the last seven years (hit-skip or felonies involving a vehicle).
Lyft doesn’t have a policy about pending charges, but an OVI/DUI conviction will disqualify you for 7 years. Even a plea to a reduced charge will likely keep you from earning some extra money with Lyft for the next 3 years.
Taxi Drivers & OVI
Taxis are regulated by the cities in which they operate, leading to a list of regulations which would turn this post into a novel. For brevity’s sake, we will focus on the City of Columbus. If you hold a taxi license in Columbus and are convicted of “operating, driving, or being in physical control of any vehicle while being under the influence of alcohol or drug”, your taxi license will be revoked. Additionally, a taxi license will be revoked if you accumulate 12 points on your license in a 2-year period, even if some of those points pre-date getting the license. Under Ohio law, an OVI conviction puts 6 points on your license, which immediately puts you at the halfway point to losing a taxi license before you even get one.
If you currently drive for UBER, Lyft or a taxi company, or if you are considering doing so in the future, an OVI/DUI conviction can seriously impact your plans and earnings. That’s why it is so important to have OVI/DUI attorneys with knowledge and experience to help keep you in the driver’s seat.