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California rethinks tougher licensing for ridesharing drivers

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California just stepped back from a policy that might have had a big, big impact on ridesharing services in the Golden State. Its Department of Motor Vehicles has revoked a finding that drivers for companies like Lyft and Uber need commercial license plates in order to do business. The DMV originally issued the notice (really, an interpretation of existing law) in an attempt to clear up legal uncertainties for car dealerships and their customers, but now says that it needs to conduct "further review" before it reaches a conclusion.

The change of heart was prompted at least in part by pressure from both the ridesharing outfits and state Republicans. They're worried that a commercial plate requirement would strangle growth -- it'd take much longer to get qualified drivers, and the high cost of switching could affect profits, pricing or both. The DMV's about-face (however temporary) isn't good news for those who think personal insurance doesn't do enough to protect either drivers or passengers, but it will prevent any sudden hiccups in California's burgeoning car-for-hire industry.

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