Are taxi and Uber drivers legally responsible for what happens in the backseat of a car?
The Guru Take
May not be responsible for what happens, but may be responsible for what they do. (read on)
(Oooh, this is a similar question I answered on Quora a while back. I will paste it here)
Laws generally don’t outline what you are not responsible for. They outline the actions that you are not to perform. So if there are illegal activities happening in the backseat, which I assume is the context of your question, as long as you (the driver) is not part of that illegal activity, you are not responsible for that crime…for THAT crime. So…
- If you are involved in that crime or is an accessory to that crime, yes you are committing a crime.
- Passengers doing drugs? Passengers assaulting another? Strictly speaking, those crimes are not drivers’ crime.
Now, with that said, there are legal responsibilities that you may have. For example, in some states, it is illegal to not report a crime, in progress or afterwards. So you, as a driver, may need to report it to the police, if there is a crime such as an assault or illegal drug transactions happening in the backseat.
There are other cases where you can be committing a crime: “being an accessory after the fact” (e.g. took actions to conceal the fact or helped the perpetrator get away), “committing obstruction of justice”, (e.g. lying to the police or concealing information), and “breaking the duty to rescue” (e.g. doing nothing to help those in peril).
“Duty to rescue” is an interesting one for taxi drivers. There is usually not a legal duty to come to the rescue of another, but there is when there is a “special relationship” between the two parties. Like the parents protecting their children. Employers and their employees. And, you guessed it. Taxi drivers to passengers. Look up “common carrier” and “duty to rescue”. This means you as a driver do have duty to rescue those in peril.
Note: I am not a legal professional or an expert.