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DMV suspends commercial license requirement for Uber, Lyft, Sidecar




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.
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.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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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 @CSaid

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.