There’s no question that ride sharing apps like Uber and Lyft have taken a significant chunk of the taxi industry’s business. With the apps offering shorter wait times, cheaper fares and cleaner cars, there’s little doubt as to why. However, the taxi industry is fighting back in Los Angeles by funding several sting operations by the LAPD to catch Uber and Lyft drivers breaking the rules.
Specifically, the LAPD is looking to bust drivers violating LAMC 71.02 MC, which makes it a misdemeanor for someone to pick up passengers and drive them around (for profit) without first obtaining a permit to do so. The law was initially enacted to target “bandit cabs,” which are either individuals who pose as taxi drivers to sidestep regulations or individuals who take cash for rides without running their meter.
During a recent sting by the LAPD, an Uber driver noticed a woman who seemed frantic on the side of the road. The driver pulled over and asked the woman if she was ok and if she needed a ride. The driver instructed the woman to download either the Uber or Lyft app. When the woman on the side of the road made it clear she had only an old-school flip phone, the driver indicated she would take the woman where she needed to go for a cash payment.
Then, a squad car pulled up behind her.
The woman on the side of the road was actually an undercover police officer looking to catch people doing exactly what the driver did. It is illegal for Uber and Lyft drivers to take cash payments in the City of Los Angeles, and the punishments include thousands of dollars in fees, possibly having their vehicle impounded, and a misdemeanor on your criminal record.
The LAPD has been conducting stings like this for years, and they typically net about 100 drivers a month.