Food delivery drivers in DC may get a fine next time they block traffic

Many drivers in D.C. have laid on the horn at a food delivery driver who parked in the middle of the street to grab a meal from a restaurant, but those drivers may soon have to find a parking spot.

Currently, the enforcement arm of the D.C. Department of For-Hire Vehicles can only write traffic violation tickets for passenger-carrying vehicles such as taxis, Uber and Lyft — they can only give warnings to delivery drivers. Last month, though, council member Charles Allen sponsored emergency and temporary legislation that would give them authority to hand out citations.

The emergency legislation, which lasts 90 days, was passed by the council last month. It goes into effect once the Mayor signs it. Currently, it is under mayoral review, but Allen expects Mayor Muriel Bowser to sign it.

“One of the concerns that several neighbors and businesses raised was food delivery drivers double parking, and blocking lanes of travel for vehicles and buses, blocking bike lanes and blocking crosswalks,” Allen said during a September council meeting.

Vehicle inspection officers often patrol areas where there is a high concentration of for-hire drivers, such as bars and restaurants around sporting events.

“The emergency and temporary legislation here are very narrowly tailored to only give the department the power to issue traffic citations. The department cannot impose any other regulations on food, beverage or personal delivery service,” said Allen.

The new rules do not apply to services such as UPS, FedEx or Amazon delivery services.

Council member Trayon White voiced concern about the new measure.

“I’m concerned about the everyday workers. I think about Uber Eats drivers getting out to run into a house or a building to drop off food. They’re not standing that long,” said White. “We are setting the precedence yet again for giving tickets and to penalize people who are trying to earn a living.”

The D.C. council will have a final vote Tuesday on the temporary legislation. If approved, it will again go to the mayor for approval and then seek a 30-day congressional review.

Once the law is in place, it will expire after 225 days. Allen said they will plan to fine-tune the legislation for a permanent solution beginning next year.

“But this clears up that ambiguity and closes that loophole for them on the ride-based app side, which is really where they spend their time from an enforcement perspective,” said Allen.

Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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