Are Uber And Lyft "Operating Illegally" In LA And SF?

Suzanne Robertson
Big fines could be coming for ride-share companies.

Already being attacked by taxi companies, Los Angeles and San Francisco prosecutors say ride-share programs are breaking the law.

Uber, Lyft and Sidecar are being threatened with legal action unless they make major changes.  

A joint investigation between California's two largest cities was launched and found the ride-share companies were in violation of California law. The report claims that the services and represent “a continuing threat to consumers and the public”.  Prosecutors are threatening to impose civil penalties but didn’t say what those might be.

Among the district attorney office claims: 

  • The companies mislead customers by saying background checks on drivers screen out those with criminal offenses and DUIs. However, they don't. 
  • Shared-ride-service fares that allow separate passengers going the same way to pay their fares individually violate state law.
  • Uber and Lyft don’t have the correct licenses to pick up and drop off passengers at airports.


“We value innovation and new modes of providing service to the public,” San Francisco district attorney George Gascón. “However, we need to make sure the safety and well-being of consumers are adequately protected in the process.”

The only company that's responded so far is Sidecar, with Sunil Paul, CEO, claiming that the allegations are "shocking and baffling." Paul has launched a petition  to stop what he describes as "overzealous regulators," influenced by "big taxi companies" from shutting his company down.

In the meantime, Uber, Lyft and Sidecar have until October 8th to try and find a solution. 

Berlin is the latest city to ban Uber cars saying  that Uber puts passenger safety at risk by using "unverified drivers in unlicensed vehicles". The fine amount is $33,400 each time Uber violates the ban. Drivers will be fined $26,750 if caught picking up passengers.