Vehicle and Driver Requirements for Uber and Lyft in Florida
Gregg Hollander | July 2, 2023 | Florida Law
Uber and Lyft have become synonymous with public transportation in many situations. Tourists in Florida, for instance, use rideshare services instead of costly taxis and public buses, and they also take the form of popular alternatives to designated drivers.
Most people who regularly use Uber and Lyft, however, never consider the risks of getting into a car with a stranger. Thankfully, that trust is in large part thanks to the efforts made by all states, including Florida, to regulate rideshare drivers and vehicles to improve passenger safety.
Risks of Rideshares
Founded in 2009, Uber was the first commercial rideshare company to explode onto the scene. In its early days, the company was primarily focused on growth, failing to address the risks posed to passengers by drivers.
After several high-profile cases, state attorneys general started asking Uber, Lyft, and other ridesharing companies to turn over documents about their business practices. Specifically, prosecutors wanted to know how ridesharing companies investigated incidents involving drivers and their vehicles.
That interest in ridesharing drivers came about as a result of reports regarding risks to passengers and other motorists brought about by rideshare drivers. These risks included the following:
Initially, Uber and Lyft fought these investigations; but as information slowly trickled out, states saw the enormous scope of the problems at hand and began to take action.
Who Determines the Rules for Rideshare Companies?
California was the first state to regulate rideshare companies in 2013. Several communities in Florida followed suit, passing local ordinances that regulated how ridesharing companies could operate in their jurisdictions.
The state passed a law in 2017 that barred these local ordinances and set a uniform standard for Uber and Lyft across the entire state, determining the bare minimum standards that all rideshare companies must meet.
In addition to these laws, Uber and Lyft have established company policies to govern which drivers and vehicles are accepted into their ranks. In some cases, the companies have adopted tougher standards than the state.
For instance, Florida requires that all rideshare drivers have a valid driver’s license, while Uber itself requires its drivers to have a valid driver’s license and at least one year of driving experience for drivers over 25 and at least three years of experience for drivers under 25.
In other situations, the companies set rules in areas that are not addressed in Florida law. Florida does not set a minimum age for drivers, for instance, but Lyft requires all drivers in Florida to be at least 25 years old.
Driver Requirements for Uber and Lyft
The companies’ driver requirements are meant to address the following two primary safety issues:
In the early days of Uber and Lyft, the convenience of hailing rides through a mobile app was balanced by the risk of being victimized by criminals, who either became drivers or posed as such to commit assaults and other criminal acts.
Working to reduce riders’ risks of these acts, Florida law requires Uber and Lyft to conduct criminal background checks on all prospective drivers, which covers national criminal databases and the national sex offender registry.
The companies must reject applicants who were convicted of any of the following:
- A felony within the past five years
- A violent offense, sexual battery, lewdness, or indecent exposure within the past five years
- Driving under the influence, reckless driving, hit-and-run, or fleeing a law enforcement officer within the past five years
- Driving on a suspended or revoked license within the past three years
The companies must also deny anyone who appears on the national sex offender registry.
Uber and Lyft Accidents
Two concerns persisted in the minds of policymakers regarding Uber and Lyft accidents. First, they worried that drivers lacked enough insurance coverage to properly compensate victims of these crashes.
As a result, Florida passed a law that requires drivers to carry insurance coverage of:
- At least $50,000 for death and bodily injury per person and $100,000 for death and bodily injury per incident while using the app to find passengers
- At least $1 million for death and bodily injury while carrying passengers
Lawmakers’ second concern involved the notion that drivers might not have the skills and temperament necessary to carry passengers. A provision was therefore included in the law to require Uber and Lyft to conduct a driving record search and reject any applicant with more than three moving violations in the prior three-year period.
Vehicle Requirements for Uber and Lyft
Florida does not impose any special requirements on rideshare vehicles. The vehicle used by a rideshare driver must simply be street-legal and in safe operating condition. Nevertheless, Uber and Lyft do impose vehicle requirements.
An Uber vehicle must:
- Be 16 years old or newer
- Have at least four doors
- Be in “good condition”
- Be free of cosmetic damage and commercial branding
Lyft vehicles must:
- Be of the 2011 model year or newer
- Have at least four doors
- Have at least five seats, including the driver’s
- Not be a taxicab, stretch limousine, or rental vehicle
These requirements do not necessarily make the vehicle safer, however, and unlike many states, Florida does not require rideshare vehicles to pass a safety inspection.
What Happens When Rideshare Companies and Drivers Violate the Rules?
Rideshare companies and their drivers face grave consequences if they fail to follow Florida law. The state can issue a fine against any rideshare company that does not conduct the required criminal and driving records searches.
More importantly, however, an injury lawyer could argue that a failure to screen drivers, as required by state law, displays a lack of due care by rideshare companies, and as a result, the company might bear liability for any resulting injuries.
Therefore, if you suspect that a rideshare accident you were a victim of could have been prevented by better screening practices, contact a lawyer to determine your legal options.
Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in South Florida
If you’ve been injured in an accident, please contact our experienced personal injury lawyers in Florida at Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation today. We have three convenient locations in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach.
Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers – Boca Raton Law Office
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Boca Raton, FL 33433
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