Virginia Reiterates: Uber and Lyft Are Illegal, And Need to Provide Services Less and Lobby Government More


As my post yesterday about how Lyft drivers were being cited and having cars impounded in Austin, Texas, made clear, in the uncertain, shifting, and highly varied legal and regulatory environment across the nation for "e-hailing" apps like Uber and Lyft, the companies have a tendency at times to operate first, and see what cities try to do to stop them later. (Which in many cases is to try to fine, ban, limit, or otherwise harass them.)

So far only California has been sensible enough to carve out a manageable, not terribly restrictive, statewide space for such services to operate legally, as I discussed in this October article.

Spiros Vathis / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Today the state of Virginia loudly and firmly reiterated that this superhelpful, wonderful, makes-life-easier-for-nearly everyone, technical innovation in rides-for-hire is not permitted, and thus prohibited, in that state. There is nothing so helpful to the public that our public defenders won't try to destroy it.

At the Virginian-Pilot website, the bad news:

Virginia's Department of Motor Vehicles sent cease and desist orders today to Lyft and Uber, telling the two ride services that they must stop operating in violation of state law or face fines against their part-time drivers.

The DMV had already issued civil penalties against the companies in April—$26,000 for Uber and $9,000 for Lyft—for trips that their drivers provided in Virginia despite warnings by the state agency that Virginia law does not allow their business model….

The DMV is studying Virginia's motor carrier laws with an eye toward legislative changes next year that could allow Lyft and Uber to legally operate in the state. Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne said last week that he liked the companies' business models, but until the law is changed, they are violating it.

Instead of defying the law, Virginia's DMV chief Richard Holcomb "wrote that he 'strongly' suggested the companies focus their resources on participating in the state study 'rather than continue illegal operations in the meantime..' "

In other words: don't spend your time and resources providing fabulous services to willing drivers and passengers and giving people paying work and making better use of existing vehicles and resources, companies: spend your time and resources lobbying state government! That will make the world a better place.

The cease and desist letters to Lyft and to Uber.

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  1. Anything not explicitly permitted is implicitly forbidden.

  2. The problem with VA is that it’s too close to MD.

    It’s sort of amusing in a sick way, how the left have picked up the name progressive, which is I guess supposed to imply that they are for progress. Yet at the same time they are all in favor of bigger and more intrusive government.

    There is no greater hindrance to progress than government.

    1. That all depends on what you’re progressing toward.

      1. And if you ask a progressive what that is, they can’t accurately say.

        1. Sure they can, we’re progressing toward a utopia where there are no factories, no dirty industry, no lower or lower-middle class people, no crime, no war, no violence, and no inequality. How are we going to get there? By banning all of it.

        2. Progressing towards a new, more perfect man. New Soviet Man is a subclass of it — but same idea.

          Make people more perfect, better, by coercion. Coerce people not to be wicked, coerce them not to have vices, coerce them not to have the wrong opinions.

          That’s progressivism in a nutshell.

  3. with an eye toward legislative changes next year…

    Fuck you, you parasitic fucks. The least you could do is just take your unearned paycheck and stay the fuck out of the way.

    1. Stolen beer tastes better!

  4. “In other words, the rule of law is more important than how awesome your app is”.

    (Contra Brandon, above, this is explicitly forbidden in VA law – Code of Virginia 46.2-2001.1.

    Yes, it’s something the world would easily survive without, and I support repealing those laws tomorrow.

    But this is not a case of “forbidden because not explicitly permitted” – it’s specifically forbidden in plain (if verbose) language:

    It shall be unlawful for any person to […] transport passengers for compensation […] without first obtaining a license, permit, or certificate, unless otherwise exempted, as provided in this chapter“)

  5. Enterprising people have a useful, convenient idea that makes life better? Can’t have that.

  6. I’ve had a few Lyft rides recently where they didn’t have the pink mustache on the car. It didn’t bother me since the app shows you what car is coming to pick you up, plus you usually talk to the driver to arrange specific pick-up directions.

    If Lyft and Uber don’t have any markings on the car how is the government going to know that the pick-up is a Lyft ride?

    And this is naively assuming of course that they don’t pilfer smart phone data to confirm the activity.

    1. By having a team of cops in SWAT gear popping out of the bushes, surrounding the car with guns drawn, and throwing you and the driver to the ground every time they see someone give a person a ride.

      Its a model that’s working so well for prostitution and drug interdiction.

    2. They would do stings. Just order up a Lyft driver and bam, busted.

      1. Sure, but if they saw you get into a car with another driver while they were waiting for their target – extra credits!

      2. Yeah, that would work. Fuck.

      3. They wouldn’t even bother with that. They’d just go to a parking lot or something and start asking people(the older, more vulnerable looking, the better) for a ride, and the first person who accepts, a dozen roided up cops in riot gear would spring out of the shrubbery and state the beat down. If the driver had a dog, then it would be a most excellent day for our heroes in blue.

  7. So, just watched an episode of Judge Judy.

    Let me tell you ladies – if you’re always buying your man shit, that’s a HUGE RED FLAG that should be telling you that that he’s a POS with no future and don’t expect him to be there when it comes time to pay the bills.

    I do not understand the predilection of young attractive women to hook up with men who need to borrow gas money.

    1. I do not understand the predilection of young attractive women to hook up with men who need to borrow gas money.

      I think it has to do with both a feminine need/desire to take care of someone and the conceit that their love will change or reform a loser into a good provider.

      It goes hand-in-hand with low self-esteem.

      1. This perfectly explains my relationship with your mom.

        1. What’s my mom, chopped liver?

      2. Speaking of…where is my gas money from your visit?

    2. you’re always buying your man shit, that’s a HUGE RED FLAG

      A huge red flag for what?

      My wife buys me stuff all of the time. I pay all of the bills. I also buy her stuff. What’s the deal with that?

      Also, Judge Judy is a hugely annoying and fugly biattch. How can you watch that? Isn’t the daily puppycide here enough?

      1. OK, fine pedant.

        When you’re always buying your man shit because he’s fucking broke – its a hug red flag.

        And its a red flag for ‘not gonna get a job and leave you with the bills and a couple of kids’.

        Money may not matter with your friends, and it certainly doesn’t matter if you’re just screwing, but if you’re thinking of actually raising kids together then you should be looking for someone who can actually have your back if things get rough – this dude was not that guy.

        Actually JJ is pretty good. The people coming in or arbitration are a parade of dysfunction the like of I’ve only seen on Jersey Shore.

        Yesterday I saw someone who thought it would be a good idea to wear *purple* lipstick to court.

        1. Just sayin, what about the guy who showers his broke ass unemployed girlfriend in gifts? That seems to be acceptable.

          1. Sure is – double standard.

            It gets a lot less acceptable when he’s a single dad showering his broke ass girlfriend whose job gives her 20 hours at minimum wage and she won’t even look for a second, is still living with her parents, and is pouring her money into fixing up her truck so she can show it of at las dunas on the weekends.

            1. Yeah, but I’ve found that people are going to be people. It’s typically not possible to persuade either the gold digger or the one being taken for a ride, out of what they are doing. I’ve seen friends of friends waste considerable amount of time trying it to no avail, save lots of frustration. Hormones makes people stupid. And some people are already considerably stupid to start with.

              1. I know – in this case I had to shake the girl out of it. But really, she was about ready to dump his lazy ass anyway. I just gave the final bit of clarity she needed to go and do it.

                Not the chick on JJ, the friend of mine with the kids paying for her broke ass boyfriend’s gas.

  8. OT, but this is indeed an interesting time.

    Laws like this have been around forever but more people means more “things” means more opportunity for gov’t intrusion. The advent of info tech, however, means more eyeballs on these type of idiotic intrusions, and is leading to a growing distrust of govt, and by extension it’s laws.

    Bermuda, eg, can pass silly taxi laws but nobody will follow or enforce them. It is, IMO, a uniquely modern American trait to actually TRY and follow laws, stupid or otherwise (see our tax gap vs everyone else). Therefore, the growing number of local, state, fed intrusions, coupled with the unique sunshine that the interwebz can shine on them could lead to an erosion of this trait. What that will mean for this country’s stability is anyone’s guess, but the short term impact cannot be good. Interesting times.

    1. As far as I can tell, the long term impact is a corrupt culture where you have to constantly bribe public officials in order to go about unmolested.

      1. That’s far worse than here, where no attempts at bribes will allow you to go about unmolested.

    2. I’ve actually speculated recently whether having a culture that really sticks to the letter of the law and considers outright bribery and corruption a terrible thing (inherited from the British) is a net positive. Sure, when you don’t have a ton of laws, it works well, because corruption is low and is persecuted harshly. But when you have a huge government with tons of laws, and you can’t just throw some money at the building inspector or clerk or whoever you could bribe to make an absurd, bad-law-caused problem go away, suddenly you’re truly at the mercy of these bad, or crony-based, or whatever laws. You can’t bribe the merciless official who is insisting that you comply with a terrible law, but you can’t comply with it either. So you’re fucked. It also has the added “benefit” of drawing the worst kind of people into the bureaucracy, because they know they can’t make money from bribes, so the absolute only reason they’re doing it is because they really want to have capricious power over others.

      I wonder sometimes whether a simple, throw a few bucks at the official and everyone then ignores the law, Italian/Greek/South American/just about everywhere else but the US and the Commonwealth type corrupt system is actually better in the long run as it buffers people against the capriciousness of bad law (and let’s face it, the majority of law is bad).

      1. I’ve actually witnessed this which you spoke of in the last paragraph. And I have to say, it’s better than what we currently have here. Like I said in my post above, no amount of bribes here will allow you to go around unmolested, unless it’s millions in campaign donations to the right persons.

        You’re going to be molested eventually when everything is illegal and there are hordes of spiteful and petulant government employees whose only joy in life is the misery of someone else.

        1. If it’s better than here why are these corrupt places such shitholes?

          1. If where is better than here? I can’t really think of too many places that are more corrupt now than the US. Venezuela? Russia? And there are lots of shithole places right here in the USA, ever been to west Baltimore?, and plenty of places in countries all around the world that are not shitholes. Believe whatever you want, or experience for yourself, makes no difference to me and I form my own opinions, not blinded by any kind of nationalism.

            1. Hyperion–Have you ever come across this blog? Very interesting reading of the Bal’mer ways.

      2. I think though that the bribery system would start to pull along all the other bad things that go along with it, like cops pulling you over just to demand a bribe and shit like that. Now instead of inspectors and bureaucrats fucking with you to get a power boner, they’ll be fucking with you until you pay them directly whatever they may demand.

        1. I think though that the bribery system would start to pull along all the other bad things that go along with it, like cops pulling you over just to demand a bribe and shit like that

          Yeah, now they just pull you over in hope that you have a dog to shoot or that you mouth off a little so they can beat you half to death, or completely to death. Or say they ‘thought’ maybe your cell phone was a gun and so shot you 25 times. That’s much better.

        2. Yeah, but you can’t squeeze blood from a stone. A cop that pulls over a poor person because they want lunch money isn’t going to expect to get $1000. There’s an Laffer curve to bribery: you can’t expect different people to be able to afford the same bribes, and you can’t get much in the way of bribes from poor people, or insanely huge bribes from rich people. So why bother them unduly? And also, too much demanding of bribes makes you very unpopular, and I’m sure there’s some enterprising new officer who would love the chance to get bribe money but is smart enough not to overdo it.

          The thing about bribery is that it weirdly re-introduces competition. When the law is followed without fail, it is truly monopolistic. It is then abused by people who don’t care about money and just want endless power over others. Follow the law, or be punished: there is no other recourse. Bribery reintroduces options. You could comply; or you could bribe the guy and hope they like what you offer. It at least gives you multiple ways out and you can choose which works for you.

          Pure monopoly and lack of choice are what truly turn government into its worst form. Any introduction of competition or choice makes things so much better.

        3. Speaking of cops fucking with you just to get a power boner:

          Flying from cincinatti to SFO this week, and as I was heading down the jetway to the plane, some ‘roid user asswipe with a badge around his neck stopped me and announced that he was part of a drug interdiction unit, and “asked” for “permission” to search my bag. The one that TSA had already allowed into the secure area of the airport.

          Mother FUCKER pulled this shit on me knowing that if I resisted, I’d miss my flight, and I didn’t know if there were any others that day. His shithead partner then pipes up with “well, we can detain your bag and see if a dog alerts on it for drugs”. I knew goddamned well that I didn’t have any drugs and that they knew it too, but I know that a “drug sniffing” dog will “alert” on anything his handler wants him to, and even if the dog lays down and takes a nap, the pigs will pretend that the dog issued them a legal warrant.

          I asked the pigs when I’d get my bag back if they stole it from me, and they said “we can’t say”.
          Well, I had several things in the bag that I didn’t want to lose, so I told them that they could search the bag but I was doing it under protest. They smirked, did a cursory poke around in my clothes, and smugly thanked me for my “cooperation”.

          I am so mother FUCKING sick of this bullshit, especially the hypocrisy. If I moved to mexico, at least the cops are perfectly up front about how many pesos they want to fuck off and leave you alone.


      3. I took a course in grad school that was called the economics of corruption. It dealt exactly with these trade-offs. A bit of corruption makes the impossible-to-comply laws and regulations tolerable.

      4. So, everywhere else they have a culture of corruption, bottom up. Here we have top down corruption.

        We have to find a way to make this political class wither and die.

        1. Take the money and power out of politics. End career politics, and make cronyism illegal and severely punished.

    3. Isn’t it funny that the land of the free has the most ruthless and merciless government?

      1. You haven’t seen anything yet. They know that a backlash is quickly growing against them and that they are losing the respect of the public. Expect them to go full on tyranny, soon.

        1. I just noticed today that Pineville, La, a tiny little town, has a huge armored car, a tank really, parked outside the police dept. .

          1. Our government is done fighting the made up terrorists abroad. It’s time to take on the real terrorists, us.

            Funny how Holder just announced a sweeping effort aimed at ‘domestic’ terrorists. Those would of course be anyone who is critical of government.

            They just come right out and admit this stuff and people still won’t believe that it’s happening. Public education sure has worked out well for them.

            1. We are all become Justin Bourque.

          2. It would be a shame if something happened to that armoured police tank.

            1. Do you know how easy it is to make thermite? And that you can light it with a child’s sparkler?

        2. They know that a backlash is quickly growing against them…

          You say this (and I really want to believe it, myself) but I don’t see it.

          If a baby being burned with a flash bang doesn’t cause a riot at the Habersham County Sheriff’s Office, I don’t know what will do it. Especially when you aggregate ALL of the stories like that.

          I’m afraid the US populace is too apathetic.

          1. If it would have been a dog, there probably would have been a riot. But public sentiment is growing against crap like this. It’s just going to take a lot more victims and then when nearly everyone knows someone who knows someone who has been victimized like this, the shit will start hitting the fan. Remember, most people are not like libertarians. They seem totally oblivious to the plights of others until it hits close to home.

            1. There won’t be any backlash. When I was in my late teens I figured there’d be a revolution by the time I hit forty. Well, that was last year. They just keep on pushing, little by little, and nothing else happens. The camel’s back is indestructible.

              I was reading in the paper today about how a nearby city just passed an ordinance that allows the police to talk with landlords if the police are called to the place too often. The talking is just “voluntary.” For now. And there are no fines for landlords with disruptive tenants. For now. But before long the cops will be sending landlords hefty fines after they are called to a building more than five times in a month, or fifteen times in a year. And nothing else will happen.

              1. You’re old and bitter we get it.

                1. Gotta agree with sarcas, you are going to be waiting a long time if you are waiting for the revolution.

                  It ain’t coming anytime soon, if at all.

                  1. We got that revolution. It was the Reagan Revolution. Not sufficient but we are certainly much better off for it. I shudder to think where we would be without it. I’d be typing this on Windows ME.

                    The next one should be better. Things happen faster now. Ranchers in Nevada can’t be fucked with so easily. People are not as easily convinced that a white Hispanic beat himself up and a young black kid at the same time.

                    1. Ah yes. The Reagan Revolution. The revolution that brought us the ramped up drug war and the prison industrial complex. The revolution that started the militarization of the police. The revolution that brought us unfunded mandates and federal blackmail against the states. The revolution that started the tradition of each president doubling the national debt.


                2. You’re old and bitter we get it.

                  You’re young and stupid I get it.

                  1. I’m far smarter than a one-note cynic like you.

                    1. I’m far smarter than a one-note cynic like you.

                      I’m smart enough to not brag about being smart.

                    2. Being smarter and a better commenter than you isn’t really ‘bragging’. It’s like clearing the bar when the bar is on the ground.

                    3. Sorry pig, but I’m not going to wrestle you.

              2. There won’t be any backlash

                There’s already starting to be backlash.

                So, you’re just over the top cynical, no? I don’t really blame you for that.

                I’m just a little more optimistic, but not overly optimistic.

            2. True enough, and you are correct about public sentiment growing. The rub is whether or not that sentiment ever turns into action.

              Perhaps, as you theorize, once things hit closer to home, people will take notice. I agree that most are not like libertarians, or even news junkies who are aware of these things happening. I can only hope that as more of these outrageous actions occur, they continue to get wide coverage.

  9. We’re obviously just moving to DC, so we’re a bit naive when it comes to slugging and how it will be impacted by this. If the driver is getting n-kind compensation (by being allowed to drive in the HOV or HOT lanes for free, thereby cutting his commute, isn’t that subject to the same bullshit?

    Also, if the ride originated in DC but crosses the river, does it become illegal if the money all changed hands in the district?

  10. We’re obviously just moving to DC, so we’re a bit naive when it comes to slugging and how it will be impacted by this. If the driver is getting n-kind compensation (by being allowed to drive in the HOV or HOT lanes for free, thereby cutting his commute, isn’t that subject to the same bullshit?

    Also, if the ride originated in DC but crosses the river, does it become illegal if the money all changed hands in the district?

    1. Commerce clause.

      Next question?

  11. Remember, business owners: when some marketing dweeb on the VA taxpayers’ teat calls you up to try to entice you to locate an operations in the commonwealth, be sure to answer with “Are you fucking kidding me? You asswipes won’t even let Uber operate there, so why in the world would I trust you to let me operate my business unmolested?”


  12. The real problem with Uber and Lyft is insufficient opportunities for graft.

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