Lawmakers look at whether Uber cuts down on DUIs


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Legislative friends of the ride-sharing app Uber tried to pull a fast one and do in the state budget what they couldn't do during the regular session, which was to stop the growth of local regulations. But alert opponents have so far stopped efforts to give the company a free ride.

During the regular session, lawmakers couldn't agree on levels of insurance or background checks for Uber drivers.

Budget language know as proviso surfaced late Monday to study whether ride services like Uber cut down on DUI's. It also would have prohibit local governments from enacting new regulations for Uber and others. It originated with State Sen. Jeff Brandes.

"It simply provides an allocation to a state agency to do a study," Brandes said. "And it says until the study is done, let's not regulate this companies out of existence, because they are probably saving lives."

But as lawmakers met to horse trade, State Sen. Arthenia Joyner got angry, arguing the budget was no place to enact Uber policy that failed in the regular session.

"This (is) totally inconsistent with the way we pass public policy, and it should not be done in proviso," Joyner said.

Minutes later, after a recess and discussion, the Senate withdrew the language, which disappointed state Rep. Jamie Grant.

"It's disappointing, but I don't think it's dead," Grant said.

Indeed, nothing's really dead just yet. There are still two levels of decision makers who can reinsert the Uber DUI study language at any time.

When it comes to DUIs, Uber driver Kimberly said the NBA and hockey playoffs have been a boom for drivers.

"They've had their beers or had whatever they've had to drink. And they are ready to go home and they're certainly not getting in the car and putting the keys in the ignition, and I think that's a good thing," Kimberly said.

For now, people can keep calling for a ride home while local governments will still be able to consider their options.