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Uber's S.F. Autos Deemed "Illegal" by Cal. DMV, Co. Picks Up & Moves to AZ

Friday, February 17, 2017By Richard Alexander

The era of self-driving cars is upon us. Many companies have obtained permits to test their driverless technologies in California. Notably absent from that list is Uber, the hometown San Francisco company that started out as a ride-share service.

Uber has become well-known for flaunting California laws and regulations. In a bold move last December, it began testing its self-driving Volvo XC90s utility vehicles in San Francisco.

Just one day earlier, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) released a statement stating that Uber, like other car manufacturers, was required to obtain a permit to test its cars on California roads. In short, the DMV called Uber's self-driving cars illegal.

Uber initially took the position that it was not required to follow the permitting process because its vehicles required humans to sit behind the wheel to monitor and control the cars as needed. Uber argued that this requirement of human oversight removed the Volvos from the definition of “autonomous” under the law, which stated that such vehicles drive “without the active physical control or monitoring of a natural person.”

The Attorney General’s office became involved, advising Uber that if it failed to remove its vehicles from the road, a lawsuit would be filed seeking injunctive relief. And the DMV then revoked Uber’s registration of the vehicles.

As the controversy brewed, Arizona Governor Ducey tweeted support for Uber, advising that Arizona would be happy to host Uber’s self-driving car pilot program. Uber picked up the ball, loading its cars to transport them to Arizona for business.

The California State Legislature is considering a bill to expand the DMV’s powers relating to autonomous vehicle technology to include these:

  • fines of up to $25,000 per day for operating autonomous vehicles without a state permit;
  • the power to have police impound vehicles operated without the permit; and
  • the power to prohibit new applications for autonomous technology testing for up to two years.

Autonomous and connected vehicles show great promise in providing transportation to many who truly need it. However, as the technology is perfected, unnecessary crashes will undoubtedly occur.

If you were injured due to an autonomous feature of a vehicle, the San Francisco personal injury attorneys at Alexander Law Group, LLP will work with you to procure all possible monetary compensation. Our goal is to help our clients receive proper compensation for their pain and suffering. You can reach one of our San Francisco personal injury attorneys at 888.777.1776. Alternatively, you can use our online contact form and we will get back to you promptly.

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