June 6, 2014 By Dave Forster, McClatchy News Service
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles sent cease-and-desist orders Thursday to Lyft and Uber, telling the two taxi-like services they must stop operating in violation of state law or face fines against their drivers.
The two companies are on the leading edge of a trend in which smartphone apps are used to connect passengers with drivers using their personal vehicles, often as a side job. They also are often at odds with governments across the country as states and cities try to figure out how to regulate them.
The order signaled that state officials' patience had worn thin with Lyft and Uber, each of which continues to provide service in Hampton Roads after being fined this spring. It also showed a shift in tactics: Rather than fining only the companies again, the DMV is now threatening civil penalties that could reach as high as $1,000 per violation against the drivers themselves.
The DMV is studying Virginia's motor carrier laws with an eye toward legislative changes next year that could allow such companies to legally operate in the state. Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne said last week that he has spoken to representatives from Lyft and Uber and likes their business models.