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DMV suspends commercial license requirement for Uber, Lyft, Sidecar

Uber and Lyft are cab companies biggest competitor, calling some to question the role of the taxi industry in funding LAPD stings.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A Lyft car drives next to a taxi on June 12, 2014 in San Francisco, California. The California Public Utilities Commission is cracking down on ride sharing companies like Lyft, Uber and Sidecar by issuing a warning that they could lose their ability to operate within the state if they are caught dropping off or picking up passengers at airports in California.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles is backing down from requiring drivers for “e-hail” services like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar to obtain commercial license plates after a firestorm of criticism.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles is backing down from requiring drivers for “e-hail” services like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar to obtain commercial license plates after a firestorm of criticism. The DMV first brought up the policy in early January, citing a 1935 state law as justification.

But on Friday, the department had a change of mind, saying that the matter is now up for reconsideration.  “We jumped the gun, and we shouldn’t have,” a DMV official said in a statement. “The matter requires further review and analysis which the department is undertaking immediately.”

The financial implications would be enormous. E-hail drivers would need commercial insurance, for example, which is more of a hassle to get, particularly when most drivers are just part-timers. Some analysts say the commercial license plate requirement would be a huge roadblock for the e-hail industry. Should e-hail drivers be required to get commercial licenses?

Guests:

Carolyn Said , Business and technology reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle. She covers the so-called “sharing economy” for the paper. She tweets at

William Rouse, general manager of Yellow Cab of Los Angeles and heads the taxi trade group, Taxicab Paratransit Association of California

Sunil Paul, CEO of Sidecar, a “e-hail” company founded in San Francisco, Calif.

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