After Virginia ordered Uber and Lyft to stop operating in the state, both companies said they would basically pretend it hadn’t happened and continue operating normally. In other places where ride-share companies have ignored orders from local authorities to stop operating, police sting operations and prosecution have been just some of the consequences for the companies. The question in Virginia was, since the state was ordering the ban, how would local law enforcement handle it. The Arlington County Police Department at least, said it will be enforcing the new ban, according to a report from ARLnow.
That’s a pretty big deal since of course Arlington County is where Uber and Lyft drivers will be going when they leave D.C. for Virginia. If it were just state police enforcing the ban, then it might theoretically be possible to vastly lower the chances of getting pulled over and cited just by sticking to surface roads as much as possible. With the county police on enforcement duty though, there’s a much higher chance of getting into trouble for the drivers.
One silver lining for the drivers in that the ACPD said they will not be prioritizing enforcing the ban over other crimes. It’s more likely to be something that is added to other charges of a driver, like if they are pulled over for speeding or something. Since Uber, if not Lyft, cars are hard to spot without asking the driver, that probably means there won’t be a sudden influx of drivers into Arlington jails. It certainly wasn’t difficult getting one to go to Virginia over the weekend.
It may be just a matter of patience and hope for the companies to get the matter resolved. Both companies are supposedly working with state lawmakers to come up with a way to bring the companies into the existing structure of regulations for car services or to create brand-new ones that will make them legal again.
Protests against the companies by taxi groups and counter-protests by libertarian and other political organizations have made the question of the future of Uber and Lyft almost as heated here as it is in Boston, Miami and San Francisco. But, like most business controversies, the money involved ensures Uber and Lyft will keep going as long as possible, and that they will probably eventually find a way to make it all legal.
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