Lyft drivers could see cars impounded

In this March 12, 2014 photo, passenger Katie Baranyuk, left, and Dara Jenkins, right, a driver for the ride-sharing service Lyft, perform Lyft's trademark fist-bump as they pose for a photo after Baranyuk got a ride from Jenkins to downtown Seattle to meet friends after work. In a fight pitting upstart technology and traditional business, app-based ridesharing firms are fighting with taxi companies for supremacy in the Seattle market. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

AUSTIN (KXAN) – As social media buzzes about Lyft’s upcoming launch in Austin, the City of Austin is reminding would-be drivers that they could lose their cars if caught driving without proper permits.

IN-DEPTH | Who are Lyft drivers?
Lyft requires drivers to meet the following requirements

  • At least 23 years old
  • Own a working car (2000 or newer)
  • Own an iPhone or Android
  • Pass phone screening
  • Pass an in-person interview
  • Pass a background check
  • Pass a DMV check

According to a statement by the Austin Transportation Department, a chauffeur’s permit is required for any driver who is being paid by a company or passenger for more than the $0.56 per mile Federal Reimbursement rate.

In the Lyft business model, the passenger pays the company via credit card information that is saved in the user’s account. The company then pays the driver 80 percent of the collected fare.

Lyft is offering users in the Austin area 50 free rides, which indicates the company may be planning to launch without charging its users.

The city also reminded nonpermitted ground transportation companies that they are  “operating outside the law.”

“The Austin Transportation Department’s role is to enforce the Austin City Code, and as the Code is written today when a driver is paid to provide ground transportation services, the providing company must be permitted and the driver must have chauffeur’s permit.  ATD is currently working on a process to engage transportation stakeholders in order to make a recommendation to the City Council about a possible pilot program to see how transportation network companies could possibly operate in Austin.  We look forward to that process and working with the community to see what works best for Austin.”

ATD says it has not been contacted by Transportation Network Companies, such as Lyft or Uber, seeking permitting. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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