Va. orders Uber, Lyft to stop operating in state

WASHINGTON – The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles says that ride services Lyft and Uber are violating state law and must stop operating immediately.

The DMV sent cease and desist orders to both companies Thursday.

The letters state that the department has levied penalties against both companies for operating without proper authority. For several months, the state notified both companies that they were not complying with Virginia law.

Uber and Lyft drivers could also be subject to penalties for violating the order, the letter says.

The letter encouraged the firms to join an ongoing study reviewing the state’s passenger transportation regulations. The study is expected to be complete before the General Assembly meets in January.

Both services provide rides in the D.C. metro area.

In a statement, Lyft says it will continue operating in Virginia and that it is already complying with Virginia transportation laws and rules.

The company also pledged to work with officials to update the state’s laws.

“As many of the current regulations surrounding taxis and limos were created before anything like Lyft’s peer-to-peer model was ever imagined, we’re committed to continuing to work with state officials to craft new rules for this new industry,” an email statement says.

In a statement, Uber Technologies called the DMV’s actions “shocking and unexpected” saying it has worked “in good faith” with the DMV to create regulations that would allow its service to operate.

“The DMV decision today hurts thousands of small business entrepreneurs who rely on the Uber platform to make a living, create new jobs and contribute to the economy – and it hurts the countless residents who rely on Uber,” the company says.

Uber says it will continue operating in Virginia despite the state’s order.

The for-profit, ridesharing services are coming under increasing pressure in states across the country and in D.C. for violating taxi and insurance laws.

Also Thursday, the DMV urged riders to make informed choices about which transportation services they use. The DMV says riders should check that cars have seatbelts, current license plate and inspection stickers. Riders should ask about additional charges for gratuities, fuel or mileage.

Riders can search a DMV database to find registered and insured transportation services in Northern Virginia – use the Fairfax District dropdown.

“I urge the citizens of Virginia to protect their families by using only companies that appear on DMV’s website as licensed transportation services. If it’s not on the list, it’s not recommended,” says DMV Commissioner Richard Holcomb.

Uber Cease and Desist

Lyft Cease and Desist

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WTOP’s Amanda Iacone and Ari Ashe contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter and on Facebook.

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