State says ride-sharing service Uber illegal in SC

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- A global ride-sharing service expanded into four South Carolina cities last week, but the state says it's operating illegally. The company, however, says it's operating in a gray area.

"People are just targeting this company because its new," said Uber partner Daryl.

Daryl asked not to use his last name, but he says it's a new day for drivers in the Holy City. Daryl says he used to be cab driver and he's waited three years to work with Uber.

"People are ecstatic, they're very happy as soon as they get in, they're like, 'Wow! Uber's finally in Charleston,'" he said.

Daryl says since the Charleston launch last week, the rides are non-stop once he clocks in.

Uber is an app-based ride-sharing program that's considered illegal in some states -- including South Carolina -- since the company doesn't have a registered business license in the state.

"I guess you would say they're operating outside of the law," said Dawn Hipp with the state Office of Regulatory Staff.

Hipp says agency began working with Uber in March.

"We weren't able to get a regulatory framework started quickly enough for them or they felt like compliance with state law wasn't something that they were interested in doing," said Hipp.

Hipp's office filed a petition with the public service commission to determine if Uber and its driver partners should be regulated as motor vehicle carriers.

Uber must respond to the commission by July 24 to explain why it doesn't have to be regulated.

Hipp says it's about safety.

"We know that Uber has indicated it has a million-dollar insurance policy that would extend to those drivers, that would fill that gap. However we've not seen proof of that," said Hipp.

The public service commission will on July 26 hold a hearing in Columbia to determine if Uber is operating illegally.

An Uber spokesperson said the response for the company's arrival in the state has been positive, adding limiting the options available to people looking to travel around the city will only hurt residents.

"Any attempt to restrict consumer choice and limit economic opportunity does nothing but hurt the riders who already rely on Uber for safe, reliable transportation and drivers who are taking advantage of the increased earning potential and flexibility," said spokesman Taylor Bennett. "We look forward to continuing to provide the safest, most reliable ride on the road, as we continue to work with city and state officials to modernize regulations and find a permanent home for Uber in South Carolina."

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