CULLMAN, Ala. — Tuscaloosa residents who offer rides to others through the ridesharing service Uber soon could find themselves in handcuffs.

A Tuscaloosa city spokeswoman confirmed to Watchdog.org on Wednesday the city will follow through on an ultimatum issued last week — drivers could be put behind bars for violating Tuscaloosa’s vehicle-for-hire ordinance, a misdemeanor.

“The city has decided to step up and possibly arrest drivers,” spokeswoman Deidre Stalnaker said. “We could have done that from the start.”

The start she references is shortly after Uber began operations in the home of the University of Alabama on Aug. 28, when Tuscaloosa police officers began issuing warnings to Uber drivers that they could be violating the city’s vehicle-for-hire law.

Unlike hailing a cab from the street or calling a limo service and setting up an appointment, ridesharing companies like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar work strictly through the free smartphone apps they offer to customers.

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