When Can You Turn Uber Passengers Away?
Refusing service to Uber Passengers
Of course, as an Uber driver, you cannot legally discriminate against people — everyone has a right to use Uber’s service.
That is, until passengers cross a legal line or threaten the viability of a driver’s business.
Uber Service Terms & Rules
Uber drivers have a fundamental need to protect both themselves, and their passengers. If you’re an Uber driver, and you feel as though an individual is not fit to get into your vehicle, you can most certainly turn them away — as long as it’s within Uber’s rules.
Drivers are often uneasy about denying passengers — why? Well, because under certain circumstances, they can get deactivated. Have you already experienced a situation which left you in an awkward or tough spot? If so, it’s beneficial to understand when you can legally turn passengers away.
When Is It Okay to Turn Away Passengers?
Depending on the situation, you may want to turn passengers away…but often, you won’t be able to, at least without violating some of Uber’s Driver-Partner rules.
In many cases, drivers may not think a certain route is financially beneficial — for instance, they may need to pay tolls or drive through rush hour. In these cases, however, as long as the passenger is within the Uber area you work in, you must accept them as a passenger in your vehicle.
So, is there a time when turning away passengers is okay? If so, how do you go about navigating through these specific situations?
A Growing Issue — Drunk Passengers
Being a rideshare service, Uber has (openly) advertised that it’s the perfect solution for cutting the incidence of drinking and driving. Like other taxis, Uber is an easy way for passengers to safely get home after a night out. The only major downside is: this has raised an entirely new dilemma for Uber’s Drivers — the ever-increasing possibility of working with drunk, potentially aggressive individuals.
There have been a number of incidents, including a well-known attack in Los Angeles, as well as West Palm Beach. In response to the second major incident, Uber issued a clear, official response to their Driver-Partners. They stated unequivocally that if a passenger is in a drunken state, drivers can deny them a ride (in addition to giving a bad passenger a negative rating).
One of the largest concerns is that a large portion of Uber drivers are part-time — working ten or less hours a week. This means, that they are less experienced in terms of these tricky commercial-driving situations (in a way that your average taxi driver is not) and this not only makes their job more logistically challenging, but also more dangerous.
Many Uber drivers express the importance of being cautious and ever-vigilant. If, as a driver, you feel unsafe at any point — no job is worth the risk that you’ll potentially be harmed. In other words, turn away passengers you deem to be hazardous or dangerous — even if it might threaten your driver rating.
Accepting Passengers with Pets & Service Animals
In regards to pets, drivers will need to accommodate guide dogs, based on recent regulations.
In the last few years, blind passengers have been denied Uber rides because of guide dogs — leading to lawsuits, and settlements, with Uber.
In terms of all other animals, it is up to a driver’s discretion — if an Uber driver deems an animal acceptable, then they are free to accommodate the animal as a passenger in their vehicle.
At the end of the day, drivers should not need to take any verbal or physical abuse. Uber has stated clearly that they’re dedicated to both the safety of their riders and drivers.
But how are drivers protected?
Drivers are protected by Uber in a number of ways.
Due to Uber’s core use of smartphone technology, all locations (and related pieces of information) are tightly tracked, Uber offers a rapid response unit and law enforcement support if needed. With that being said, it’s obviously optimal to avoid any trouble at all. At the end of the day, respecting your passengers and staying vigilant — and always steering clear of major disagreements and arguments — is a good rule of thumb.
You cannot refuse a ride if it’s within your working area or if you simply do not want to take an individual for some unjustified reason (religious, racial, gender, or otherwise). Discrimination should not be tolerated on either end — coming from driver or passenger.
There appears to be some gray areas in terms of Uber’s rules and regulations, but if your safety is ever a concern, you most certainly have the right to refuse a passenger. If this happens, contact Uber immediately (or use this EMERGENCY ONLY number for safety-related assistance: 800-353-8237 (UBER)) in order to report the incident. If the individual is drunk and belligerent, for instance, and if it’s safe to do so, consider recording brief footage.
It goes without saying that all of Uber’s drivers want to protect their jobs — but nothing is more important than your well-being.
If you wish to read more about Uber’s legal deactivation policy, you can do so here.