by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
Carolina Journal reporter Lindsay Marchello has written a piece on the Passenger Protection Act, a bill to regulate ride-sharing services in North Carolina. According to Marchello, the bill comes as a reaction to the murder of a South Carolina woman who mistakenly entered a car she believed to be an Uber. The bill, Marchello explains:
requires that a ride-share driver install a license plate to the front of their car when in operation. The license plate must be at least three inches tall. Additionally, ride-share drivers’ cars must display some sort of signage or emblem clearly indicating it’s a ride-share vehicle. The signage must be readable from 50 feet during daylight hours and visible at night.
Anyone who fails to display a front license plate may be subject to a fine up to $250. The bill also includes a criminal provision:
Under the legislation, impersonating a ride-share driver would be a Class 2 misdemeanor. The offense becomes a Class H felony If someone impersonates a ride-share driver while committing another felony. Assaulting a ride-share driver would warrant more severe punishment. Instead of a Class 2 misdemeanor, the crime would be a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Lindsay Marchello quotes Nick Zaiac, a policy fellow at the R Street Institute in his statement that the criminal penalties may be too much:
“The bill already has a solution to that problem,” Zaiac said. “There’s no reason to add a criminal element to it. The criminal element makes this bill feel like an overreaction.”
Fraud, impersonation, and assault are already illegal, Zaiac said.
Marchello points out that, while the bill does add additional safety measures, ride-share programs already have many safety features:
The ride-share apps let riders see what the driver looks like, the make and model car, and the license plate number before the car arrives. Some ride-sharing apps let a rider share a trip with their family and friends.
“Ride-sharing companies are already solving the problem,” Zaiac said. “The one thing they aren’t doing right now is requiring drivers to have a front-facing license plate.”