Jill Kolodner | June 16, 2022 | Maryland Law
As of 2022, every state regulates rideshare companies. The last state to regulate ridesharing, Oregon, enacted its laws in 2021. These laws, which refer to these companies as transportation network companies or TNCs, tell Uber and Lyft what they must do to provide ride-hailing services in various states.
Maryland’s TNC laws went into effect in 2016. These laws set the vehicle and driver requirements for Uber and Lyft in Maryland.
Importantly, Maryland’s laws prohibit cities from passing local regulations on ride-hailing companies but exempt Baltimore from the prohibition. As a result, Baltimore can pass additional regulations on Uber and Lyft, even though it has not yet done so.
Here is an overview of Baltimore’s vehicle and driver requirements for Uber and Lyft.
Transportation Network Company Requirements
Maryland required Uber and Lyft to obtain a permit issued by the commonwealth to operate in the state. To obtain a permit, the companies needed to provide the commission in charge of TNCs with a copy of their:
- Vehicle requirement policies and how they would enforce them
- Driver requirement policies and the screening process
- Insurance requirements and the verification process
Unlike many other states, Maryland does not require Uber and Lyft to carry a company-wide liability insurance policy. For example, California requires ride-hailing companies to carry a $200,000 insurance policy on top of the driver’s policy. Maryland has no such requirement.
Driver Requirements in Baltimore for Uber and Lyft
Maryland sets the baseline for TNC drivers. Uber and Lyft have stricter standards than Maryland for many of the requirements. For example:
Maryland requires drivers to have at least six months of driving experience. Uber requires drivers in Baltimore to have one year of experience if they are 25 or older and three years of experience if they are under 25. Lyft requires drivers to have at least one year of driving experience.
Uber and Lyft conduct the background check required by Maryland law. This check reviews three information sources:
- Criminal records
- Sex offender registry
- Driving history
Maryland has a list of disqualifying convictions, including:
- Tier 1 felony crimes of violence such as kidnapping, homicide, rape, and robbery
- Tier 2 felony crimes such as assault, violation of a restraining order, weapons crimes, drug crimes, sexual abuse, burglary, and theft
- Misdemeanor crimes of violence
- Multiple criminal convictions
Maryland prohibits registered sex offenders from driving for TNCs. It also prohibits TNC drivers who have:
- Major traffic offenses that caused a death
- Major traffic offenses involving drugs or alcohol within the most recent seven years
- Other major traffic violations within the most recent three years including reckless or distracted driving
- Multiple major traffic violations within five years of the application
Additionally, TNC drivers cannot have multiple moving violations within four years of applying.
Vehicle Requirements in Baltimore for Uber and Lyft
Maryland requires all vehicles used by rideshare companies to pass a safety inspection. This inspection happens at a repair shop approved by the Maryland State Police. To pass the inspection, the vehicle must:
- Have eight or fewer seats
- Be ten model years in age or newer, with certain exceptions
- Have interior dome lights
- Have interior heating, although air conditioning is not required unless the car came with it
- Be clean and sanitary
Additionally, the car must have a unique identification number from the TNC and display the TNC’s logo. Drivers must also provide the license plate number and a picture of the vehicle to the TNC.
Insurance Requirements in Baltimore for Uber and Lyft
Drivers must carry an insurance policy with up to $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident bodily injury liability coverage. The policy must also include up to $25,000 in property damage liability coverage.
This coverage could compensate passengers and other drivers in the event of an Uber accident, depending on what stage in the ridesharing process the passenger was in. Contact an attorney if you’re unsure of who is liable in your case.