An ordinance requiring that persons engaged in the business of
letting out automobiles to be driven by and for the use of those
who hire them shall pay license fee on the vehicle and deposit
insurance policies or bond for the protection of person and
property against negligent operation of the vehicle by their lessee
in view of the state power over public highways
and in he absence of any showing that the regulation was
arbitrarily burdensome or based on arbitrary or capricious
classification. P. 284 U. S.
123 Oh.St. 284, affirmed.
Appeal from a judgment sustaining a city ordinance in a suit to
enjoin its enforcement.
MR. JUSTICE BUTLER delivered the opinion of the Court.
The appellants sued the city, its mayor, and other officers in
the Court of Common Pleas of Hamilton County to enjoin the
enforcement of Ordinance No. 50-1929 on the ground of repugnancy to
the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth
Amendment. After a trial at which evidence was taken, that court
found the provisions invalid and granted permanent injunction. The
court of appeals tried the case de novo
and sustained the
ordinance; its judgment was affirmed in the highest court of the
state. 123 Ohio St. 284, 175 N.E. 196.
Page 284 U. S. 336
The ordinance *
"driverless automobiles for hire" as public vehicles, imposes
license fees for their use upon the streets and requires persons
engaged in the business of leasing such automobiles to deposit with
the city treasurer insurance policies or bonds in specified sums
for the protection of persons injured or whose property may be
damaged as a result of lessees' negligent operation, maintenance or
use of such vehicles.
Each appellant owns automobiles and is carrying on the business
of leasing them, for compensation based on mileage, to be driven by
the lessees on the city streets and elsewhere. Many insurance
companies which formerly carried the risks specified in the
ordinance decline to issue such policies; but some are offering
rates at the option of the insured, of $232.50 per vehicle per year
or 10 percent of the gross earnings which on the average amount to
approximately $1,800 per year.
Appellants maintain that the measure constitutes an unreasonable
interference with a purely private business and is not one for the
regulation of the use of streets; that it attempts to convert
appellants into public utilities and impose upon them liability
without fault, and that it is discriminatory and oppressive.
Page 284 U. S. 337
Unquestionably appellants contemplate that those hiring their
cars will operate them upon the streets. In fact, such use of the
streets is essential to appellants' business. It is a special and
extraordinary use materially differing from operation of
automobiles or trucks by owners or their chauffeurs in the usual
way for private ends. The running of automobiles necessarily is
attended by danger to persons and property in the vicinity; and,
when they are negligently driven upon city streets, the peril is
great. The court below found that the operation of automobiles by
such hirers is extra-hazardous to the public. The state has power
for the safety of the public to regulate the use of its public
highways. Hendrick v. Maryland, 235 U.
, 235 U. S. 622
Kane v. New Jersey, 242 U. S. 160
242 U. S. 167
Sprout v. South Bend, 277 U. S. 163
277 U. S. 168
It may prohibit or condition as it deems proper the use of city
streets as a place for the carrying on of private business. This
Court has sustained a state law requiring reasonable security for
the protection of persons in respect of injuries and losses caused
by the negligent operation of motor vehicles engaged in carrying
persons for hire. Packard v. Banton, 264 U.
, 264 U. S. 144
cf. Hess v. Pawloski, 274 U. S. 352
274 U. S. 356
Such measures, so far as concerns constitutional validity, are not
distinguishable from the ordinance under consideration. City of
San Antonio v. Besteiro,
209 S.W. 472; Welch v.
127 Misc. Rep. 221, 215 N.Y.S. 540.
This ordinance is not an interference with or regulation of a
business that has no relation to matters of public concern; it
rests upon the power of the city to prescribe the terms upon which
it will permit the use of its streets to carry on business for
gain. It does not attempt to impose any burden or duty that is
peculiar to public utilities. Our decisions in Michigan Public
Utilities Commission v. Duke, 266 U.
, and Frost & Frost Trucking Co. v. R. Co.
Comm'n, 271 U. S. 583
Page 284 U. S. 338
apply here. Nor does the ordinance attempt to make hirers the
agents or employees of the owners or to make the latter liable for
the negligence of the former. It merely requires the giving of
security that lessees shall "respond in damage for their own
tortious acts." 123 Ohio St. 284, 175 N.E. 196, 199. There is no
showing that the conditions imposed are arbitrarily burdensome or
that the measure in any way operates to deprive appellants of
property without due process of law.
There is nothing on the face of the ordinance or in the evidence
or findings below to warrant the conclusion that the
classification, § 65-1 b, is capricious, arbitrary, or so lacking
in foundation as to contravene the equal protection clause.
Truax v. Corrigan, 257 U. S. 312
257 U. S. 333
Power Mfg. Co. v. Saunders, 274 U.
, 274 U. S. 493
Quaker City Cab Co. v. Pennsylvania, 277 U.
, 277 U. S. 400
The record fails to show that the enforcement of the ordinance does
or will substantially discriminate against the business of
appellants. The claim of repugnancy to the equality clause cannot
be supported by mere speculation or conjecture.
"Sec. 65-1 b. The term 'public vehicles' shall apply to all
vehicles furnishing individual service as a business in the
transportation of persons, which are hereby classified as (1)
public vehicles which seek their business, or a part thereof, on
the public streets or quasi
-public places, to-wit:
'taxicabs,' and (2) public vehicles which use the public streets
for the purpose of transporting passengers for hire, but which do
not seek their business thereon, or in quasi
places, to wit: 'autosforhire,' 'driverless autosforhire' and
"Sec. 65-1 e. The term 'driverless autosforhire' shall include
any public vehicles which is rented or hired out to a person other
than the owner, and operated by the person renting or hiring the
same for his own use and not for the purpose of transporting
persons for compensation."