The initial efforts to regulate rideshare companies started in California in 2013. Lawmakers felt they had to respond to increasing complaints about rideshare drivers, ranging from car accidents to stalking and even sexual abuse.
Minnesota has a mixed bag of laws governing rideshare companies. These laws, the majority of which were passed in 2015, made Minnesota among the earliest to regulate these businesses. The state’s laws cover two areas: auto insurance requirements and driver background checks.
Sources of Vehicle and Driver Requirements
Minnesota’s vehicle and driver requirements come from two main sources:
Laws and Ordinances
Minnesota has two primary laws that cover all rideshare companies and drivers in the state. The first governs the insurance coverage that rideshare companies and their drivers must carry, and the second sets the requirement for rideshare companies to conduct a background check for all drivers.
Cities and counties in Minnesota retain the authority to pass local ordinances – so long as they do not conflict with insurance and background check laws. For example, Minneapolis requires vehicle inspections before rideshare drivers can begin picking up passengers.
Companies like Uber and Lyft impose additional requirements on drivers and their vehicles. As long as these requirements do not contradict or violate state or federal laws, companies can impose any policy on their workers as a condition of their employment.
Vehicle Requirements for Uber and Lyft in Minnesota
Before rideshare drivers can use their vehicles for Lyft or Uber, they must pass a comprehensive safety inspection, which covers the following aspects:
- Engine belts, hoses, and fluid levels
- Exhaust and emissions system
- Climate control
- Tires, wheels, and spare tire
- Doors, trunk, windows, and windshields
- Dashboard dials, including the speedometer
- Headlights, turn signals, brake lights, and tail lights
- Seats, headrests, and seat belts
- Floor and roof
The inspector must also take the vehicle for a test drive to test its engine, looking specifically at acceleration and engine power.
In addition to the inspection requirement, vehicles must meet rideshare company requirements. For Uber, vehicles must be 15 years old or newer, and older vehicles must have accumulated less than 150,000 miles. The vehicle must have four doors, no cosmetic damage, and no commercial branding.
Lyft’s requirements vary by location. In the Twin Cities, Rochester, and Duluth, vehicles must be 15 years old or newer; in the rest of the state, Lyft permits 16-year-old vehicles. The vehicle must have four doors and five to eight seats. It also cannot be a limousine, taxi, or rental car (unless rented from Lyft itself).
Driver Requirements for Uber and Lyft in Minnesota
All drivers in the state must undergo a criminal background check.
Additionally, under Minnesota law, rideshare companies cannot hire anyone with convictions for:
- Murder, manslaughter, or vehicular homicide
- Assault, including vehicular assault
- Rape or sexual assault
- Harassment or stalking
- Robbery, theft, or burglary
- False imprisonment
- Terroristic threats
Lyft and Uber do impose driving record restrictions. Lyft drivers cannot have more than three minor violations or one major violation within the past three years. A DUI or driving-related felony within the past seven years will also disqualify a Lyft driver.
Uber drivers have less guidance about the requirements they must meet, but the company will still review up to seven years of an applicant’s driving record, looking for citations and convictions for traffic-related offenses.
Insurance Requirements for Rideshare Companies and Drivers
Minnesota law sets uniform insurance requirements for all rideshare drivers in the state regardless of the company they work for. When a rideshare driver is logged into the app and available to accept rides, the driver must have no-fault insurance plus bodily injury liability insurance (BIL).
In the event of an accident, rideshare drivers may also utilize insurance provided by Uber or Lyft, depending on their status at the time of the crash. For instance, a lucrative policy generally will apply if the accident took place while the driver was en route to pick up a passenger or during a ride.
Consequences of Violating Vehicle and Driver Requirements as an Uber or Lyft Driver
When a rideshare company hires a driver who does not meet state laws or company policies, you may be able to prove negligence. Rideshare companies must exercise reasonable care, so approving a driver who does not pass a criminal or driving history check means the company may have breached that standard of care. Similarly, if a company approves a defective vehicle, you may have a claim for negligence against it.
Contact the Minnesota Car Accident Law Firm of Hall Law Personal Injury Attorneys For Help Today
For more information, please contact an experienced car accident lawyer at Hall Law Personal Injury Attorneys to schedule a free initial consultation today. We have three convenient locations in Minnesota, including Minneapolis, St. Cloud, and Edina.