District Attorneys: Uber, Lyft Are “Operating Illegally”

Letters to app-hailed ride services warn of legal action.

Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar have been put on notice by district attorneys in both Los Angeles and San Francisco — shape up, or be prepared to ship out. Or be sued.

Both cities' prosecutors sent letters to the leadership of all three companies on Thursday, warning that four areas of law are being repeatedly broken and must be fixed at the risk of legal action.

The action comes after an NBC4 I-Team investigation exposing the services.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the DAs feel the so-called "ride-sharing" companies pose "a continuing threat to consumers and the public."

An official with Sidecar expressed shock, saying that they will meet with the DAs and are confident they will come to an agreement.

Sidecar wants its users to fight back and sign a petition in favor of ridesharing services. 

"Shared rides are great for California because they are safe and affordable, cut down on traffic congestion and reduce pollution...The district attorneys are trying to enforce laws written for limousines in an era before smartphones. Sidecar will continue to operate and expand share rides.”

The warning letter received by Sidecar gives them the deadline of Oct. 8 to sit down with the distrct attorneys offices and discuss how to remove labeling on their app, on their cars and on their customers receipts. 

All district attorneys offices believe that all three companies mislead the public in regards to their claims that drivers undergo background checks, the newspaper reported, and all three companies use a shared-ride service that violates state law with its pricing.


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They also do not have the right permits to deliver passengers to the airport, and they are not regulated by the same state agency that regulates how much taxis can charge per mile.

The safety concerns raised have gotten the attention of Tricia Denney, who regularly uses ride-sharing services.

"The fact that there are sometimes young children, single women getting in the car most definitely they should do due diligence," Denney said.

Attorney Chris Dolan is applauding the crackdown on ride-sharing services.

"I think it's about time someone from the government with a back bone is forcing these people to do what they are supposed to do," he said.

Dolan is currently suing Uber over the death of 6-year-old Sophia Liu, who was hit and killed by an Uber driver while she was in a crosswalk in San Francisco.

"Ultimately consumers are going to be the ones who suffer," Dolan said. "They are not providing safety training, background checks."

Some ride-share users, however, believe that the companies are being unfairly targeted.

"It’s a family. That’s what I see Lyft as, a family. It’s like your friend that you call up like, 'Hey I need a ride, can you take me to work?,' user Roma Gala said. "Yeah, you pay for it. But it’s worth it."

Officials with Uber and Lyft didn't return phone calls Friday. However, each company issued a statement saying company officials would meet with the district attorneys.

"The DAs have made numerous inaccurate assertions that we will correct and discuss with them," Uber spokeswoman Eva Behrend said.

"We are confident that we can work with the District Attorneys' offices to address the items outlined in their letter and look forward to discussing with them soon to do so," Lyft spokeswoman Paige Thelen said.

Toni Guinyard, Samia Khan and Joel Grover contributed to this report.

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