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Uber Driver Allegedly Beaten By Passengers

An Uber driver in Signal Hill was brutally attacked this past New Year's Eve, and though police have identified the assailants they must uncover additional evidence before charging them.

According to witnesses, Gilbert Wilburn picked up two men at a Long Beach party. When they arrived at an apartment complex, the two allegedly attacked Mr. Wilburn. He sustained serious injuries, including a broken jaw. Since his mouth is wired shut, he could not give a statement to police and the two men remain at large.

The Signal Hill police chief acknowledged the driver's injuries but said his department would conduct a "full and fair" investigation before proceeding further.

First, a quick primer. Uber is essentially an informal smartphone-based service that is somewhere between hailing a cab and calling a friend for a ride. Local motorists are basically on call to pick up and drop off. Uber claims its service is more convenient than public transportation and costs less than regular taxis.

Uber and similar services operate in a legal grey area. Limousine and taxi drivers must be licensed and insured. But, Uber's service is more akin to someone giving you a ride from Bakersfield to San Francisco in exchange for gas and snack money. At some point, a line is crossed between amateur and professional driver, but no one is really sure where that line is.

If you are an Uber driver, get ready for more traffic tickets. You may be in unfamiliar parts of the city or county, and not know where the speed limit suddenly drops, which intersections have short yellow lights, where heavy traffic makes it hard to change lanes, and so on. An attorney practicing in Kern County can represent you in court and possibly get the fine and/or points reduced.