South Carolina Uber Driver First to Be Fined

December 8, 2014

A man believed to be the first driver arrested for working with Internet ride-sharing company Uber has been fined $437.

A Charleston County magistrate found Taft Navarro guilty Thursday after he was ticketed in October for dropping a passenger off at the Charleston International Airport.

South Carolina law requires companies and drivers to have a certificate showing they’ve been inspected, had a criminal background check and are insured. Uber provides insurance and requires a background check, but does not require a certificate.

“This was throwing something at the wall to see if it stuck, and it did. So now they’re going to enforce their ordinance and they are going to cite Uber drivers that they know without a doubt, because they are monitoring, that are continuing to violate that ordinance,” Navarro told The Post and Courier of Charleston.

Charleston is working on new rules to accommodate Uber and other for-profit ride-sharing services. In the meantime, Uber paid Navarro’s fine and will pay any other fines for its drivers.

The Aviation Authority appears to be the only group enforcing the law used against Uber drivers.

“There’s a real valid reason why we do this,” airport attorney Arnold Goodstein said after attending Thursday’s hearing. “You fly into some city and get a cab, you want to make sure the person you’re getting in the car with has been checked out, and that they’ve got insurance in case they get in a wreck.”

Four Uber drivers sat in court to support Navarro. One of them said he dropped off two passengers at the airport before court and planned to take more.

“I don’t really think that this represents a precedent,” Uber driver Eric Windt said. “I think in this case, it was obvious to us that the airport wanted to rattle our saber, maybe have a victory here today to discourage Uber in general at the airport. But I don’t think it’s going to have their desired effect.”

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