Local nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) and ridesharing app Lyft are again partnering to offer free rides during the holiday season.
As part of an effort to combat drunk driving, WRAP will be sponsoring free Lyft rides starting this Friday (Dec. 14).
From 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., rides up to $15 are free with the use of a promo code. The user is responsible for any costs over $15. The offer will continue until Jan. 1.
Weekly codes will be posted at the Sober Rides website at noon on Dec. 14, 22, and 31. The weekly code is only valid for one ride.
According to the Virginia Highway Safety Office, there were 621 alcohol-related crashes in Fairfax in 2017, resulting in 331 injuries and 12 fatalities.
As the program is aimed at preventing alcohol related crashes, Lyft riders must be at least 21 years old to claim the offer. The code is valid for any rides inside the D.C. coverage area, which includes all of Fairfax County.
The SoberRide program operates during the December/January holiday season, St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, Independence Day and Halloween.
Image via Washington Regional Alcohol Program
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Photo by Ruth Seviers
McAuliffe and Attorney General Mark Herring said the commonwealth has reached an agreement with the new transportation companies with stipulations that will allow them to operate in Virginia. The companies had been operating in spite of a June cease-and-desist order after complaints from taxi companies.
McAuliffe said in a statement that having smartphone-driven ride companies is necessary for Virginia’s economy.
“In order for Virginia to remain economically competitive, it is important that we welcome innovative companies like Uber and Lyft and provide them with the resources they need to safely and effectively operate in the Commonwealth,” he said. “Technology — specifically related to smart phones — continues to advance at a rapid pace, and I am pleased that we were able to work together to find a swift solution that will provide Virginia’s workers, students, and families with more transportation options.”
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles issued the cease-and-desist order to the companies on June 5 for doing business in Virginia without an operating permit. Uber and Lyft have continued to operate in the state, which has led to protests from taxi drivers and a lawsuit from taxi companies.
To welcome Metro’s Silver Line to Reston two weeks ago, Uber offered two free rides to users in this area.
McAuliffe’s office says it will study how best to permanently allow Uber and Lyft to operate in Virginia without disrupting competitive balance with taxi companies or scarificing rider safety. The study is expected to conclude by the 2015 legislative session, McAuliffe’s office said.
Going forward, Uber and Lyft must adhere to conditions set by the Commonwealth. In order to keep their transportation broker’s licenses and temporary operating authority, the companies must comply or the Department of Motor Vehicles can revoke the temporary operating authority.
- Extensive background checks of drivers, with immediate disqualifiers including convictions for any felony, fraud, sexual offenses, or violent crimes, or registration as a sex offender.
- A review of driving history, with disqualification for drivers convicted of three or more moving violations in the last three years, DUI, underage drinking, refusal to submit to a breathalyzer, hit and run, or eluding law-enforcement, or a revocation of a driver’s license.
- Zero tolerance for the use of drugs or alcohol by any drivers, and a suspension pending investigation of any driver accused of violating the zero tolerance policy.
- Only employing drivers who are properly licensed and over 21, and vehicles that carry a maximum of seven passengers and are properly registered and inspected for safety and emissions, where applicable.
- Rigorous insurance requirements, including requiring drivers to maintain automobile liability insurance, maintaining on behalf of all drivers an additional $1,000,000 of coverage from the moment a driver accepts a trip request until the passenger leaves the vehicle, and liability insurance for drivers who are logged onto the companies’ software but not providing services.
- Maintaining documentation for each driver of his or her background check, sex offender registry check, driving record, proof of insurance, valid driver’s license, Social Security number, vehicle registration, and proof of vehicle safety inspection. Documentation must be available to DMV on demand to investigate any complaints, and must be available for periodic audits to ensure compliance.
- Paying any previously assessed civil penalties for non-compliance and dropping any appeals, which both companies have already done.
- Features to help customers identify their driver and vehicle, including from the outside of the vehicle.
- Drivers notifying the companies of any change in their license status, vehicle registration, insurance, or any arrest for a crime that would disqualify them from being a driver.
- Rate transparency and documentation.
- Companies advising drivers of their need to comply with applicable tax laws.
- Only accepting rides booked through the companies’ mobile device apps, not street hails.
- Companies maintaining a Virginia transportation broker’s license.
Uber and Lyft authorities said they are looking forward to resuming a relationship with Virginia.
“Thanks to the leadership of Governor McAuliffe and Attorney General Herring for putting consumers first and embracing innovation, choice and opportunity,” said Justin Kintz, Uber’s public policy representative.
File photo of UberX car