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Seattle Regulations for Rideshare Drivers

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on March 10, 2020

If you believe you can download an app, slap a sticker on your car, and start raking in some extra cash, think again. Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft can be a great source of income, but getting started is not as simple as it appears. The city of Seattle has stamped down hard on for-hire rideshare companies – referred to as “Transportation Network Companies” in government policies – in 2014, requiring strict regulations for how drivers are recruited and hired. These regulations are extensive and are designed to minimize the risks associated with rideshare accidents. Seattle requires rideshare drivers to complete the Transportation Network Company licensure before they can begin working.

TNC Licensing

Before being approved to drive for a rideshare company, you will need a valid state of Washington driver’s license and a valid for-hire driver’s license, which needs to be issued by King County Records and Licensing Services. You will also need to apply for and obtain a valid business license from the city of Seattle. You can apply online, in person, or by mail.

TNC Regulations

In addition to having both a Washington driver’s license and for-hire driver’s license, drivers and rideshare companies must abide by the following regulations:

  • Drivers must pass a criminal background check. The hiring TNC will review it and keep it for their records.
  • Drivers will have to take a driver’s education course and pass their driving test to be licensed. This course and the examination must be approved by the Department of Finance and Administrative Services.
  • Drivers must keep proof of commercial insurance and vehicle endorsement provided by each rideshare company. Drivers must also keep decals and licenses clearly displayed.
  • Drivers can only operate the car affiliated with their licenses when they are “on app” to pick up or drop-off passengers.
  • Drivers must have a printed map of Seattle and the surrounding region on hand in their vehicle that has been updated within the last two years.
  • Drivers may only accept electronic payments via their TNC app or dispatch. No cash tips are allowed.

Inspections

All for-hire vehicles must undergo an initial uniform vehicle safety inspection by a city-approved mechanic before providing driver services to the public. The inspection will certify that your vehicle is mechanically sound and fit for the road. The mechanic performing the inspection will also ensure that your plates, decals, and notices from the city of Seattle are correctly displayed. Transportation network companies are responsible for maintaining records of their drivers’ inspections and keeping them up-to-date.

Standards of Conduct

The code of conduct for rideshare drivers requires a professional demeanor, as well a focus on the safety, comfort, and convenience of passengers. Always check for any belongings your passengers may have left behind after each trip and report them to your TNC. Follow the rules of the road. If a problem does arise, or an accident occurs, you must report it within three days to the Seattle Police Department, the State of Washington, and the Department of Finance and Administrative Services.

What Not to Do Once You Obtain Your Licenses

  • No using mobile phones without hands-free technology.
  • No driving more than 12 hours in a 24-hour period.
  • No offensive language, expressions, or gestures.
  • No drinking and driving.
  • No open containers.
  • No smoking in the vehicle.
  • No illegal drugs.
  • No solicitation of prostitution.

Minimizing Rideshare Accidents and Empowering Victims

Understanding Seattle’s rules regarding rideshares is not only a must for for-hire drivers, but also passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers. Both the licensing process and code of conduct were put in place to maximize the safety of Seattle residents and minimize the risk of auto accidents. If you had the misfortune of being involved in a rideshare accident, then you will want to know all the legal recourses available to you when filing a personal injury claim. Insurance policies, vehicle inspections, background checks, and TNC regulations will be important factors to consider when reviewing your case with a rideshare accident attorney.

At Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., our experienced attorneys have the legal knowledge to review every aspect of your case to determine where liability lies and how you can recover fair and full compensation. Whether you are another driver or rideshare passenger, do not hesitate to call us at (425) 228-3860 or toll-free at (888) 228-3860 if you were involved in a Lyft or Uber accident.

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