Seattle Car2Go Service is for Sharing, not Taking

Posted by Coleen D. St. Clair | Apr 17, 2015 | 0 Comments

Motorcycle-police

Seattle may be the car sharing capital of the country. With 63 thousand members, Seattle is the car-sharing company Car2Go's top city in terms of number of users. Due to its popularity, Car2Go has announced it will be adding 250 vehicles to its Seattle fleet--a 50 percent increase from its current fleet. Car2Go is a popular car sharing service where members of the service can use vehicles located around the city for 41 cents per minute by unlocking the vehicle with a card or using their smart phones. All Car2Go vehicles are Smart Cars painted blue and white with the company logo.

The car-sharing company provides a valuable service to Seattleites who want to get around the city easily but do not wish to deal with the hassle of paying for parking, car loan payments, maintenance, or insurance. There are certain uses, however, that St. Clair Law Offices does not recommend using Car2Go for--your bank robbery get-away car is certainly included in this list.

Unfortunately, a woman in Vancouver, Washington was arrested under such accusations last August. Ms. Marie A. Berry is alleged to have gone to several establishments in and around Vancouver, handing a note to the tellers or cashiers directing them to hand over cash. She, apparently, then escaped in a stolen Car2Go vehicle from the Portland-based version of the service. In total, Ms. Berry is said to have accumulated around 2,500 dollars. She was charged with multiple felonies, including robbery, theft, and possession of a stolen vehicle.

Car2Go Smart Cars do not make good getaway vehicles. The vehicles require account verification to unlock and start, and they are equipped with GPS tracking devices.

Ms. Berry has been the butt of many jokes since her arrest. Her situation, however, raises serious issues about sources of evidence that may be used against the criminally accused to obtain a conviction in this rapidly developing information age. Where do we draw the line in terms of the information that may be used against us by the state, and what information do we voluntarily surrender when we use services such as Car2Go?

These are heavy questions, especially when a felony conviction and your freedom are at stake. Car2Go and other car sharing services provide a valuable amenity to the people of Seattle, and the new “sharing economy” provides many opportunities to improve our lives. It is also important, however, to be conscious of the difficulties and challenges that new interconnected technologies will and have introduced into our everyday lives, especially in the context of serious criminal charges.

About the Author

Coleen D. St. Clair

Ms. St. Clair is a former senior prosecuting attorney with over 25 years experience handling criminal cases. She has successfully handled tens of thousands of criminal and DUI cases with remarkable results.

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