Ridesharing services use technology such as smartphone applications to allow riders to virtually “hail” drivers for one-time trips. Popular ridesharing platforms include Uber and Lyft. Fares for rides vary depending on the location, distance, time of day, and overall demand for transportation.
Ridesharing regulations in NH
In 2016, the New Hampshire Legislature passed a law setting statewide rules for ridesharing services. This law trumped a network of varying city-level regulations. It was based on model legislation already implemented in several states.
Legal work status of ridesharing drivers
In 2018, state law clarified the status of ridesharing drivers, specifying that they qualify as independent contractors and not regular employees as long as the ridesharing service does not require them to work specific hours, assign territory, or restrict their ability to work for other ridesharing platforms.
There have been several court battles in various parts of the United States over whether ridesharing drivers truly qualify as independent contractors. A ruling in California found that drivers should be considered employees, while a Florida court ruled the opposite, confirming their status as independent contractors.
Ridesharing shift time limits
New Hampshire has no limits on how many hours a ridesharing driver can work.
In several states and municipalities, ridesharing drivers are limited to working no more than 12 or 13 hours in a 24 hour period.
Ridesharing insurance coverage
In New Hampshire, ridesharing drivers must be insured for at least $300,000 per trip, and for a minimum of $100,000 when logged into the ridesharing service but not actively engaged in a ride.
This coverage is not generally included in personal automobile insurance policies, which means most ridesharing drivers must purchase commercial insurance, or be covered by a plan through the platform for which they work.
Some states, such as Massachusetts, have required higher levels of insurance coverage, up to $1 million per trip.
Ridesharing vehicle inspections
There are no special vehicle inspection requirements for cars or trucks used for ridesharing in New Hampshire. They must simply pass the standard state inspection for personal vehicles.
In other states, such as Pennsylvania and Colorado, vehicles used for ridesharing are subject to additional inspections, usually random checks.
Taxes on ridesharing
New Hampshire does not impose any taxes or fees on ridesharing.
This differs from policy in some states. In Massachusetts, for example, a $0.20 surcharge is levied on ridesharing trips. Nevada charges a 3% tax on ridesharing. Funds from these taxes are sometimes allocated to public transportation initiatives, though in other cases they are simply added to the state’s general fund.
Drug testing for ridesharing drivers
In both New York City and New Orleans, ridesharing drivers are required to submit to random drug tests.
There is no drug testing requirement for ridesharing drivers in New Hampshire.
Background checks for ridesharing drivers
New Hampshire law does require that all ridesharing drivers pass a background check, but does not specify who must conduct that review.
This means that ridesharing services such as Uber can conduct their own background checks, if they choose, or use a third-party contractor.
New Hampshire ridesharing drivers must not be sex offenders, have committed a felony with a motor vehicle, been involved in a property damage crime, or have a recent DUI conviction.
Some states have implemented stricter rules for ridesharing driver background checks. For example, in Maryland, the background check must include running fingerprints. In Massachusetts, the background check must be conducted by a state agency, not an private company.
“NH’s ridesharing regulations are sufficient.”
- Ridesharing gives some New Hampshire citizens a flexible way to earn more money, while providing citizens with additional options for transportation. Stricter regulations on ridesharing could discourage this valuable business from growing in New Hampshire.
- New Hampshire is struggling to attract and retain younger workers, and younger workers are the ones most likely to take advantage of ridesharing services. Passing regulations that are friendly to ridesharing services, such as the state’s current rules, encourages those businesses to operate here and therefore makes the state more friendly to millennials.
- Ridesharing services match drivers to potential passengers by leveraging technology. This makes them more efficient and cost-effective than traditional taxi services. Additional regulations could compromise that efficiency and lead to increased costs.
- The strict regulations imposed on taxi and limousine services have led to barriers to competition and caused economic development to stagnate. Instead of calling for ridesharing services to be subject to those same strict rules, regulations on taxi services should also be loosened to allow them the flexibility to innovate.
- Some studies show that the availability of ridesharing services lowers incidences of DUI offenses.
“NH should impose stricter regulations on ridesharing.”
- New Hampshire’s current ridesharing rules were more or less written by ridesharing companies, and essentially reflect what those companies were voluntarily doing already. The state has a duty to impose stricter regulations to ensure the safety of both riders and drivers.
- The fees the state imposes on ridesharing companies are minimal – only $500 per firm. Since there are only a handful of firms operating ridesharing services, this is likely to raise little revenue—certainly less than the roughly $80,000 per year state departments originally estimated it would cost to regulate the industry.
- The New Hampshire State Police argue that they should be the ones doing background checks on ridesharing drivers, rather than private firms, to ensure that the checks are reliable and comprehensive. This would help protect the safety of ridesharing passengers.
- Allowing ridesharing drivers to be classified as independent contractors without any limits on the number of hours worked opens up the potential for them to be unfairly denied basic benefits and protections.
- State law should not deny cities and towns the right to make their own rules regarding ridesharing services that operate within their borders, since local officials are best positioned to know the particular needs of their communities and to respond to concerns from residents.