Ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft have been operating under an interim agreement in Virginia for the better part of a year now, but a new law setting license procedures and standards for drivers will allow the transportation businesses to pick up and drop off passengers safely and legally.
“I am proud to sign this legislation, which supports innovation in our transportation system while also protecting the safety of citizens across the commonwealth,” said Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. “Virginia is leading the way on attracting and supporting innovative companies in every sector of our economy.”
Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft allow users to conveniently catch a ride and pay for it easily all via their smartphone. Users simply open the respective app, select a pick-up location and drop-off point, and within minutes, a driver will be there to take them where they need to go. Once there, the payments are automatically handled through the app.
Last spring, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles issued Uber and Lyft a civil penalty each. In June, the DMV then sent letters to the companies informing them that they were operating illegally and must cease and desist, or else the state would fine the companies’ drivers.
By August, McAuliffe and Herring had hashed out an interim agreement allowing the companies to legally operate until lawmakers could set up some regulations.
Although legal English is difficult for everyday citizens to properly decipher and understand, the new regulatory law, House Bill 1662, is fairly simple. It requires the companies to screen their drivers, ensuring that they all pass criminal background checks, aren’t in the sex registry database, and have clean driving records. These requirements are essentially identical to the processes Uber and Lyft already use to screen their prospective drivers.
According to Delegate Tom Rust, who sponsored House Bill 1662, “Now that this legislation will become law, Virginians can take advantage of this new technology with assurance that reasonable safety and liability measures are governing its use.”
The law basically formalizes the temporary agreement between the ride-sharing services, Governor McAuliffe, and Attorney General Mark Herring, allowing the the companies to conduct business. AG Herring also said that the new law can serve as a model for other states looking to develop regulations for ride-sharing services.
“As other states grapple with regulation of TNCs and the emerging sharing economy, they should look to Virginia, where we have found the balance between safety, passenger protection and innovation,” said the Attorney General. “This law will strengthen our economy, give consumers more transportation options, and further cement Virginia’s reputation as a national leader for pro-business policies and reasonable regulation.”