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L.A. And San Francisco Send Warning Letters To Ride-Sharing Apps

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Sidecar, Lyft and Uber all in one car (Photo by Colin via the Creative Commons on Flickr)
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Ride sharing companies are in hot water right now as Los Angeles and San Francisco district attorneys have told them that if they don't change the way they're conducting business they could be facing some legal troubles soon.

The office of San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón sent out warning letters to Lyft, Uber and Sidecar after a joint investigation with the Los Angeles District Attorney, according to Bloomberg. However, it's not clear if the three companies received the same letter about the same offenses.

In Sidecar's letter, which the company provided to Bloomberg, the district attorneys accuse them of making misleading statements on their website that "lead consumers to believe that Sidecar's background check screens out drivers who have ever committed driving violations, DUI, sexual assault, and other criminal offenses." The letter states that Sidecar must remove from its website, app and any communications showing messages that imply their criminal background checks have been thoroughly conducted.

Also, Gascón's office said Sidecar's "Shared Ride" service, which allows strangers to split the fare on a single ride, improperly calculates the fares on an individual-fare basis and violates the law. Sidecar was told that they need to remove this service from their operations.

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Sidecar has until October 8 to meet with the district attorneys about these issues and how they're going to implement these changes, according to the letter.

"We want to make sure their behavior is corrected quickly," Gascón told the L.A. Times.

Sidecar disagrees with the district attorneys. "We strongly disagree with the assertion by San Francisco and Los Angeles County District Attorney Office’s that connecting people for Sidecar shared rides is illegal," Sidecar said in a statement. "The district attorneys are trying to enforce laws written for limousines, in an era before smartphones."

Uber and Lyft have not commented on their letters yet, according to Bloomberg.