Last night Reddit user DjDuctTape posted a dramatic story in the r/Austin thread about how his Lyft driver got pulled over for a DWI. The driver braked at a green light, struggled to stay in his lane and attempted to change lanes at an intersection. At that point he was pulled over by the police, and driver and passenger were questioned.
DjDuctTape (whose real name is Alexander Grant according to his SoundCloud page) did receive some consolation for his ruined night—five free rides showed up on his Lyft account after the incident. However, the ride sharing service’s generosity had strings attached—the “free” Lyfts actually had a maximum value of $25 each and were “not intended to compensate” for the issue.
The r/Austin community was up in arms about this incident, with many users saying the ride sharing industry should be held accountable for its actions. However, other redditors countered that Lyft drivers are independent contractors, not employees, and so suing the company wouldn’t do much good.
Lyft’s website also lists several safeguards against drunk driving incidents, which could serve to protect the company from liability. As part of their screening, drivers undergo several third party DMV and background checks. Lyft maintains a zero tolerance drug and alcohol policy for drivers on the road, and offers an email address and hotline for customers to report these activities. And if any passenger is suspicious after their ride. they need only rate a driver three stars or below on the app and the site ensures that they’ll never be matched with that driver again.
“Any behavior threatening the safety of a Lyft community member is not tolerated,” Lyft spokesperson Alexandra LaManna told the Observer in an email. “Upon learning of this incident, we permanently removed the driver’s access to Lyft.”
This issue is particularly important in Austin, because Lyft is the official ride sharing partner of this week’s South by Southwest festival in the city. The app is offering $10 in ride credit (courtesy of Budweiser) to any festival attendees who want to “get weird” but have a safe ride home.
Mr. Grant did not reply to a request for comment.