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Q: Our granddaughter in Sunnyvale had an appointment for her behind-the-wheel exam in early April, which was canceled due to the virus. She waited patiently for months to hear about a new appointment. She finally got the notice for it in Fresno. Because she leaves for college on the East Coast and needs this REAL ID driver’s license, she and her mom are going to spend seven hours driving to  Fresno.

What map does the DMV use that shows Fresno as anywhere remotely close to Sunnyvale? Are these kids being sent all over the state to get their licenses?

Jan Steichen, Sunnyvale

Like Mr. Roadshow’s Facebook page for more questions and answers about Bay Area roads, freeways and commuting.

A: Some are.

Q: My daughter’s friend ended up going to Bakersfield to take the driving test.

Ruth Kunney, San Mateo

A: For other license road trip stories, keep on truckin’.

Q: My license expired in June, and the DMV kindly sent me a temporary extension until October. But when I tried to make a new appointment for locations near me, I got Anaheim and Sacramento. I can’t find out if there’s an office open within 30 miles.

Sherida Bush, Martinez 

A: Yikes. When the DMV contacts you, request a new appointment at a closer location. Remember, the DMV is rescheduling 280,000 behind-the-wheel tests, and finding offices with open appointments isn’t always easy.

But for Sherida, it got worse.

Q: To add insult to injury, my license extension lists my hair color as “gry.” I do not now, nor have I ever had gray hair. I guess some ageist at the DMV decided anyone over a certain age has gray hair.

Sherida Bush

A: This isn’t the first time I’ve received this complaint. Four years ago, the following email rolled in.

Q: I have to explain the prejudice that I experienced at the DMV aimed at older folks. I’m 69 and my driver’s license was due for renewal. I was not allowed to state “silver” as my hair color. Gray was required.

John Schmitz, Morgan Hill.

A: Phooey. A DMV spokeswoman said the state allows only the following hair colors: brown, blond, black, red, gray or bald. Silver doesn’t make the cut.

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Q: My driving test was scheduled for just after the DMV stopped doing behind-the-wheel tests. I received the cancellation by phone from a number with no caller ID. The DMV website says that they are contacting people to reschedule. How are they contacting people, by phone, mail, smoke signals (this is the DMV)?

Richard Bower, Danville

A: You should get a phone call or email. If you miss the call, you can leave a number with DMV and someone from DMV will call you back at a specific time.

Join Gary Richards for an hourlong chat noon Wednesday at www.mercurynews.com/live-chats. Look for Gary Richards at Facebook.com/mr.roadshow or contact him at mrroadshow@bayareanewsgroup.com or 408-920-5335.

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California judge rules Uber, Lyft drivers are employees

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A judge on Monday ordered ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft to treat their California drivers as employees instead of independent contractors, a shift that would guarantee benefits like overtime, sick leave and expense reimbursement for workers who make up much of the freewheeling gig economy.

But the ruling from San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan P. Schulman won’t take effect right away as both Uber and Lyft said Monday they will immediately appeal to a higher court, which could put the ruling on hold as the case continues.

Still, advocates praised the ruling as a milestone in their fight to apply traditional worker protections to a fast-growing segment of the labor force. But the companies criticized the decision, saying it threatens to shut them down during a pandemic-induced economic downturn where many people who have lost their jobs turn to the ride-hailing companies to make money.

“Our elected leaders should be focused on creating work, not trying to shut down an entire industry during an economic depression,” Uber spokesperson Davis White said.

The lawsuit was filed by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the city attorneys of Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco under a new California law that says companies can only classify workers as contractors if they perform work “outside the usual course” of their business.

The law has wide-reaching implications across a number of sectors, but none more so than the ride-hailing industry. The companies have already challenged the law in federal court, where their efforts to stop it from taking effect have, so far, failed. And they have pledged to spend more than a hundred million dollars to support a ballot measure in November that, if approved by voters, would exempt them from the law.

Lawyers for Uber and Lyft say drivers are not fundamental to the business, arguing the companies are “multi-sided platforms” whose activities encompass much more than transportation. But Schulman rejected those arguments, writing in a 34-page opinion that the argument “flies in the face of economic reality and common sense.”

“To state the obvious, drivers are central, not tangential, to Uber and Lyft’s entire ride-hailing business,” Schulman wrote.

State officials have argued Uber and Lyft’s behavior hurts more than just drivers, noting the companies don’t pay into the state’s unemployment insurance fund that covers benefits for people when they lose their jobs. The state’s fund was quickly depleted following huge job losses because of the pandemic, resulting in the state borrowing billions of dollars from the federal government.

“Our state and workers shouldn’t have to foot the bill when big businesses try to skip out on their responsibilities,” Becerra, California’s Democratic attorney general, said “We’re going to keep working to make sure Uber and Lyft play by the rules.”

But ride-haling companies have been hurt by the pandemic, too. Uber announced last week it lost $1.78 billion in the past three months as millions of people stayed home during the pandemic.

Uber said it did not anticipate any immediate disruptions because of the ruling for its more than 100,000 drivers in California. Lyft, meanwhile, turned its attention to the November ballot initiative.

“Ultimately, we believe this issue will be decided by California voters and that they will side with drivers,” Lyft spokesperson Julie Wood said.

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