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Virginia DMV Tells Uber and Lyft to Stop Operating

State regulators say the companies’ “ride-sharing” services are illegal.

Photograph via Shutterstock.

Virginia is stepping up as the newest battlefield for popular car services like Uber and Lyft. The commonwealth’s Department of Motor Vehicles issued cease and desist orders to both companies today, claiming that they are violating state law by operating unauthorized for-hire ride services.

Both companies are purveyors of “ride-sharing,” in which private citizens offer themselves as drivers available to users of the companies’ smartphone apps. Sunni Brown, a spokeswoman for the Virginia DMV, says the agency is targeting UberX, while Uber’s other products like its taxi- and black car-dispatching services are operating legally.

“That’s not ride-sharing,” Brown says about UberX and Lyft. She says Virginia law defines “ride-sharing” as a non-profit enterprise. Drivers who work with Uber and Lyft are compensated for their services, with a cut of the fares going back to the companies.

In his letters to the San Francisco-based companies, Richard Holcomb, the DMV’s commissioner, writes that his agency and the Virginia General Assembly are reviewing the commonwealth’s livery regulations and may revise them to be more welcoming toward new technologies. He also slapped both companies with fines in April, charging Uber $26,000 and Lyft $9,000. In the mean time, Holcomb writes, Uber and Lyft should shut down.

Not likely, says Zuhairah Robinson, Uber’s general manager for the Washington area, including the Northern Virginia suburbs. (Uber also operates in Virginia Beach.)

“We don’t have plans to stop allowing people to have access to our service,” Robinson says. “We’ve been providing service to Virginia for a long time.” (The company entered the Washington market in December 2011.)

Robinson says she finds it confusing that the DMV would issue these orders when Uber is working with Virginia officials, including the DMV and lawmakers, to reform the state’s laws.

“We’re puzzled by it,” she says. “We have a business model that doesn’t fit nicely in the box of the rules that are currently in existence. We’ve been in communication with every level of regulatory body.”

  • timmy z

    It's helping ppl get around without being ridiculously overpriced by taxi companies! A cab from work to my home costs $17-$18 for 4.7mi!! To me that's a rip off! I hope any company that comes along to help ppl get where they need for lower costs flourishes here to nova area! If cab companies had competition, they'd be forced to make competitive prices rather than monopolize ppl cause they have no choice! Pay cabs or walk... That's immoral and for any state to disagree is only worried about what they profit over it! Next the state will say getting a ride from coworkers is illegal cause you're not on the drivers insurance policy lol

  • Ask

    It's innovative technology should be within laws and regulations. Just to use the name innovative technology cannot grant them the access to do what they want.

  • Syed Owais

    As a limousine operator in VA I must say uber x and lyft are illegally working in metropolitan states. They are working without commercial tags and commercial insurance. We as a limousine operator pay higher insurance and other fees to keep up our authority to stay legal in state.
    This uber x and lyft has reduced our income without paying any state fees. I would like to request authorities please shut these illegal services.

  • Ashraf

    It's very simple just let them to but H tag and bay insurance

  • DC603

    Oh please - it isn't fraudulent, it's innovative, and those that didn't think of it first are trying to have them shut down because they're sour that its eating into their business. Instead of adapting, you're whining. Your Business model isn't the only correct one. Perhaps people are sick of cabbies driving all over creation to drive up the meter, denying rides because they don't feel like going in a particular direction, and not taking credit cards. Keep up, or go out of business. It's not the government's job to put your competition out of business just because you don't want to be innovative.

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