"As a former prosecutor on DWIs, I believe this will give intoxicated drivers access to an alternative means of getting home without getting themselves behind a steering wheel."

Legislation which took effect just before the Fourth of July will provide greater access to transportation – and perhaps improve safety.

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development signed a charter that expands Uber and Lyft ride services across the state.

Both ride-sharing apps have been widely in use in larger cities in Louisiana and across the nation.

State lawmakers approved in the 2019 legislation which paved the way for the services to expand throughout Louisiana.

House Bill 575 gave the green light for the statewide expansion, along with regulations for the service.

State Rep. Jeremy Lacombe, D-New Roads, cosponsored the bill, which was authored by GOP House member Tanner Magee of Houma.

The statewide clearance could have a significant impact on both the economy and highway said Lacombe, who took office in March.

"It's tremendous for the entire state, and it will have a big effect on Iberville parish," he said. "As a former prosecutor on DWIs, I believe this will give intoxicated drivers access to an alternative means of getting home without getting themselves behind a steering wheel."

The number of DWIs in East Baton Rouge Parish dropped by one-third last year after Uber and Lyft began operating in the area, Lacombe said.

The service could also help those who otherwise could not go to work because they do not own a vehicle.

"It's a win-win situation," he said. "It enables people to go to work when they otherwise couldn't hold a job due to a lack of transportation, and it provides a good part-time job for those looking to earn extra money."

All drivers must obtain a permit to work in the ride-sharing service. The law also requires the company to disclose the fare or fare calculation method on its website for the user prior to the start of the service.

The company's digital network must also display a picture of the driver and the license plate number of the vehicle used for the prearranged ride, before the passenger enters the driver's vehicle.

The driver must also provide the passenger a receipt which includes the origin and destination of the trip, the duration and distance of the trip and the total fee paid for the trip.

The legislation also includes a "zero tolerance" policy that addresses the use of drugs or alcohol while the driver is providing the prearranged rides or is logged into the company's digital network, regardless of whether the driver is providing the rides.

An alleged violation of the "zero tolerance" policy will result in suspension of the driver's ability to work with the service through the duration of the investigation. The company must maintain records of the violation for at least two years from the date of the complaint against the driver.