California Operators Support TNC Drug, Alcohol Testing

Martin Romjue
Posted on February 11, 2019
GCLA leaders met Feb. 7 for a pre-Legislative Day strategy session in Los Angeles (photo: Facebook/ Carlos Garcia)

GCLA leaders met Feb. 7 for a pre-Legislative Day strategy session in Los Angeles (photo: Facebook/ Carlos Garcia)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — One of the industry’s leading state associations is joining calls for mandatory drug and alcohol testing of drivers for transportation network companies (TNCs), such as Uber and Lyft.

The position ranks high on the agenda of the Greater California Livery Association as it meets Feb. 13 with state lawmakers and their representatives as part of the group’s annual Legislative Day at the State Capitol.

State law now requires the drivers of Transportation Charter Permit (TCP) vehicles, school buses, public transit, chartered motorcoaches, and taxicabs to undergo drug and alcohol testing. The GCLA would like to see that rule extended to TNCs.

Public Safety Push

The lack of mandatory drug and alcohol testing has emerged as a pressing public safety issue now that California has legalized cannabis, more parents are allowing children to ride in TNC vehicles, and the TNCs generate a high rate of driver safety and criminal violations.

Although the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates TCP commercial transportation, has come up with a zero tolerance policy for TNCs, it has not worked because it lacks enforcement teeth, said Gregg Cook, president of Government Affairs Consulting in Sacramento and the lobbyist for the GCLA.

The GCLA is urging legislators to collaborate and work with local law enforcement agencies and citizen safety groups in devising possible legislation ensuring TNC driver drug and alcohol testing.

A CPUC audit last year of one of the TNC’s records showed 2,000 customer complaints of intoxicated TNC drivers between August 2014 and August 2015. The company reported it deactivated 574 of those drivers, but when CPUC investigators sampled 154 of the 2,000 complaints, it found the TNC has failed to follow up and investigate 90% of the sample.

“They need to recognize public concerns about legalized cannabis and we want to see proper regulatory enforcement of the entire ground transportation industry in California, including TNCs, whose drivers are not drug tested,” Cook said. “This needs to happen before there is another tragic incident.”

Capitol Visits

Throughout the day on Feb. 13, association leaders, members, and operators will break up into teams of three to five and visit a pre-set schedule of state senators and assembly members or their staff representatives.

The event is being coordinated by GCLA lobbyist Cook, board director and Sacramento operator David Kinney, who handles legislative affairs, and consultant and Orange County operator Mark Stewart. About 20-25 GCLA members and guests are expected to participate in the event.

The group will also hear from PUC officials, legislative staff, and committee consultants familiar with the issues the GCLA is advocating.

Agenda Drivers

Among other topics at the forefront of the GCLA’s agenda:

Urge the CPUC to hire more enforcement officers, take more actions against illegal operators, and enhance administrative support, using a surplus of PUCTRA fees in the agency’s account totaling close to $50 million. Since last year’s lobbying day, the GCLA scored a major victory for California operators by persuading the CPUC to suspend all fees due to the growing surplus.

Support Assembly Bill No. 5 that would put into state law provisions of a State Supreme Court ruling in a pivotal independent contractor case on April 30. The landmark case, Dynamex Operations West Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles, placed more burdens on businesses and entities to establish they have properly classified workers as independent contractors. The decision embraced a standard that presumes all workers are employees. Employers must prove: 1) Contractors are free from employer control, 2) outside the regular scope of the business, and 3) independently established in that trade, according to the California Labor Federation.

Related LCT article: GCLA Legislative Day 2018

Related Topics: California operators, California Public Utilities Commission, David Kinney, Greater California Livery Association, Gregg Cook, illegal operators, industry politics, legislation, limo associations, lobbying, Lyft, Mark Stewart, regulatory enforcement, state regulations, TNCs, Uber

Martin Romjue Editor
Comments ( 1 )
  • Anthony

     | about 2 years ago

    Uber had over 122 pasengers report to the company at jwa airport that their driver seemed to be under the influence.. uber ignored the claims untill airport officials got involved

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