Vehicle and Driver Requirements for Uber and Lyft in Georgia
January 6, 2023 | J.L. King
Uber was the first rideshare company. It was founded in 2009 and was followed three years later by Lyft. These companies saw rapid growth but also had a mixed record for safety.
Uber and Lyft accidents, robberies, and sexual assaults injured riders and other road users physically and mentally. Worse yet, most states had no safety standards for drivers, their vehicles, and the insurance they had to carry. As a result, injured passengers, pedestrians, and motorists had no clear path for recovering compensation.
Georgia Laws Covering Vehicle and Driver Requirements for Uber and Lyft
Georgia’s legislature passed laws governing Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare operators in 2015. These laws refer to ride-hailing businesses as transportation network companies. Georgia’s laws cover all companies that use a digital network to connect customers to drivers.
These laws closed a gap in legislation. By only providing a ride-hailing app, Uber and Lyft could push liability onto drivers for crashes and criminal acts. But Uber and Lyft still profited from the ride fares.
If Uber and Lyft hired drivers, they would fall under Georgia’s taxicab laws. By using non-employees, these companies could escape taxes, oversight, and liability.
Georgia’s laws imposed insurance, driver, and vehicle requirements on these companies. These laws improved rider safety by setting minimum standards for drivers and vehicles. They also ensured that anyone hurt in a car accident caused by a rideshare vehicle had an insurance policy to provide injury compensation.
When Oregon passed its transportation network company laws in 2021, it became the 50th state to regulate Uber and Lyft. To comply with this myriad of legal standards, Uber and Lyft have created their own rules. Drivers and vehicles must follow these rules to work for Uber and Lyft.
Driver Requirements for Uber and Lyft in Georgia
Georgia requires their rideshare drivers to either get a for-hire driver’s license endorsement or have a current background check. Most drivers choose the background check option.
To get the background check, a driver must submit an application to the rideshare operator with their:
- Driver’s license number
- Driving history
- Vehicle registration
- Car insurance
The rideshare company must conduct a criminal background check and cannot hire drivers with:
- A conviction within the past seven years for DUI
- A conviction at any time for a felony involving the use of a motor vehicle
- A conviction at any time for fraud, property damage, or theft
- A conviction at any time for an act of violence or terror
- A match on the sex offender registry or a conviction at any time for a sex offense
The company must also review the driving history. Specifically, the company reviews the most recent three-year period for traffic violations. The company cannot hire a driver who has either three moving violations or one major moving violation in the past three years.
Major violations include:
- Felony involving the use of a motor vehicle
- Driving on a suspended commercial driver’s license (CDL)
- Vehicular homicide
- Street racing
- Fleeing a police officer
- Fraudulent driver’s license application
- Driving on a suspended vehicle registration
- Theft of truck cargo
- Refusing a breathalyzer test
Under Georgia law, Uber and Lyft drivers only need to be 18 years old. But Uber only hires drivers 21 or older in Georgia. Lyft has an even higher minimum age of 25 years old.
Finally, the driver must have a valid Georgia driver’s license and either U.S. citizenship or a U.S. green card.
Vehicle Requirements for Uber and Lyft in Georgia
Georgia only imposes one requirement on rideshare vehicles: they must be safe to drive.
Under the Georgia statutes, rideshare vehicles must meet certain broad requirements, including:
- Good working order and adjustment
- Safe mechanical condition
- Equipped with the required safety equipment
Georgia does not require safety inspections of rideshare vehicles. But if police officers suspect a rideshare vehicle does not meet the code’s requirements, they can inspect the vehicle without obtaining a warrant.
If the officers find a safety violation, the driver can get charged with a misdemeanor, and the transportation network company can lose its right to operate in Georgia. Because of these onerous consequences, Uber and Lyft impose vehicle requirements above and beyond the state’s requirements.
An Uber vehicle must be newer than 15 years old, have four doors, and have no cosmetic damage to carry passengers. A Lyft vehicle must be newer than 12 years old, have at least four doors, and have at least five seats.
The driver must also have liability insurance for the vehicle used to drive passengers. The driver’s bodily injury liability (BIL) coverage must provide up to $50,000 in benefits for any one person and up to $100,000 in benefits for multiple people.
In other words, if only one person gets injured in an accident caused by an Uber or Lyft driver, that person can get up to $50,000 in compensation for their injuries. If multiple people get injured in an Uber or Lyft accident, they must share $100,000 in compensation.
BIL coverage will compensate passengers and other road users, such as occupants in other vehicles, injured in a crash. To seek compensation, accident victims must prove that the rideshare driver acted negligently and caused their injuries.
Consequences for Uber and Lyft for Non-Compliant Drivers and Vehicles
In addition to losing their right to operate in Georgia, Uber and Lyft risk bearing liability for any injuries resulting from their negligence in enforcing the driver and vehicle requirements.
For example, if a driver has a poor driving record but gets approved to drive anyway, Uber or Lyft might bear liability for negligent hiring. Similarly, if a rideshare driver causes an accident but still carries rideshare passengers afterward, the company might bear liability for negligent retention.
Compensation for Injuries Caused By Rideshare Drivers in Georgia
Knowing the requirements Georgia imposes on rideshare drivers and vehicles will help you determine when you have claims against the rideshare operator in addition to insurance claims. These claims could ensure that you get fully compensated after you get injured due to a rideshare driver’s negligence.
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