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Arrest Of Orlando Uber Driver Sheds Light On Law Requiring Transport Of Service Animals

Uber logo from Uber.com
Uber logo from Uber.com

Advocates for the blind are reminding rideshare drivers that they must pick up people with service dogs. An Uber driver was arrested for refusing to serve a group of people who are blind with service dogs.

Judy Mathews of Lighthouse Central Florida gets around with a service dog. She said some Uber drivers have denied her service.

“We’re trying to live our lives and get where we need to go and do what we need to do and when somebody does this it can be not only an inconvenience but humiliating too, you feel like gosh, I can’t even explain sometimes how I felt when drivers have denied me access,” said Mathews.

She said she rides the bus and takes Uber but the rideshare service is more convenient.

“Sometimes it’ll take me an hour and a half to get home on the bus or on ACCESS LYNX whereas with Uber I'll be home in 15 minutes and if I don't have time, or say I stay late at work, I don’t want to take the bus at nine o’clock at night or eight thirty or whenever I leave,” said Mathews.

Mathews said Uber drivers have denied her service because of her guide dog. She said her organization reached out to Uber and offered sensitivity training.

Mathews said it seems Uber has been doing a better job of educating its drivers on the issue. She said she was denied Uber service two or three times this year. But last year, she says, there were too many instances to even count.

Uber’s policy online says all drivers are required by law to transport service animals.

In a statement obtained by News 13, the company said, “Driver-partners are expected to accommodate riders with service animals and comply with all accessibility laws.”