WHAT LIMOUSINE/SEDAN TRIPS IN D.C. ARE LEGAL??
"No State ... shall enact or enforce any law ... requiring a license or fee ..." - the ride act
Lately the DCTC has been aggressively enforcing regulations pertaining to "out of state" limousine and sedan operation. Hack inspectors are targeting drivers and issuing excessive notices of infraction for "unlicensed vehicle non-DC resident" ($1000) and "permit unlicensed hacker" ($500). These tickets can be challenged and dismissed.
Contrary to DCTC regulations, properly licensed and registered Maryland and Virginia livery companies may lawfully provide interstate and related intrastate (D.C.) service to their passengers without obtaining licenses from the District of Columbia.
The RIDE Act (Real Interstate Driver Act, 49 U.S.C. § 14501(d)) applies to motor carriers that meet three criteria: the carrier must be
1) properly registered pursuant to 49 U.S.C. § 13901 et seq. for the interstate transportation of passengers;
2) properly registered in the state or state in which the carrier is domiciled or registered to do business; and
3) the carrier is providing such service pursuant to a contract for —
(i) transportation by the motor carrier from one State, including intermediate stops, to a destination in another State; or
(ii) transportation by the motor carrier from one State, including intermediate stops in another State, to a destination in the original State.
In essence, the Ride Act prohibits a state from requiring a fee, license or imposing a penalty on a motor carrier engaged in the interstate transport of passengers, including intermediate stops in the other state. The Act clearly prohibits the imposition of a license or fee on motor vehicles meeting those three criteria. The Ride Act apparently does not apply to private sedan service like Uber because it only applies to trips arranged "pursuant to contract." Clearly, it covers the traditional means of doing business by livery companies, such as phone, radio, internet, written contract etc.
The Ride Act allows you to make “intermediate stops” in D.C. if the trip is directly connected to Maryland or Virginia. For instance, under the Ride Act you may drive a passenger from Alexandria into D.C. and then make multiple stops in D.C. before discharging the passenger in D.C. No additional license is required. However, the business must be in compliance with the licensing requirements from its home state and be properly registered with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
(DCTC "private sedan service" refers to transportation of passengers arranged only through a "digital dispatch" or an app - like Uber's services. All trips must be paid through the app. Only cars with a seating capacity of 8 passengers qualify. To obtain operating authority you must have a D.C. based business and an app that meets DCTC criteria. No additional license, tags or registration of vehicles is necessary. You must register your dispatch service, apply for a private sedan business and apply for a bond. Private sedan service is partially excluded from WMATC's licensing jurisdiction and regulatory jurisdiction with the exception of requiring minimum insurance. [MORE])
Is my limousine/sedan business properly licensed for interstate transport?
To be eligible for the protections of the Ride Act your company must be in compliance with federal law for the interstate transportation of passengers. For hire carriers of passengers must have a USDOT number (Motor Carrier Identification Report) as well as operating authority (MC or Motor Carrier number from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to operate interstate. Your MC number must be “active.” Although limousine and sedan companies must have a certificate of authority from the WMATC, such authority does not enable MD. and VA. operators to drive point to point in D.C.
Motor carriers of passengers must obtain the following: Form OP-1(P) [HERE] [instructions] and Application for motor carrier authority. Other restrictions such as a Process Service (BOC-3) form [HERE] and insurance filings may apply. The filing fee for an OP-1(P) is $300.
If you are unsure about whether your operating authority is up to date or whether your Motor Carrier number is active you should contact the FMCSA.
WHAT SHOULD I SAY TO HACK INSPECTORS?
When a hack inspector approaches to ask you questions the first words out of your mouth should be “I won't answer any questions without my lawyer. Please call him. His number is 202-669-2771. Am I free to go?”
Did you know that in addition to the $1000 and $500 fines for “Unlicensed Operator (non-resident)” and “Unlicensed Vehicle (non-resident)” those infractions are also punishable as criminal misdemeanors for up to 90 days in jail? This means you could incriminate yourself if you answer any questions! The Fifth Amendment privilege against compulsory self incrimination “protects against any disclosures that the witness reasonably believes could be used in a criminal prosecution or could lead to other evidence that might be so used.” Most importantly, the Fifth Amendment also protects innocent people.
In most cases the hack inspector has no evidence of “Unlicensed Operator” or “Unregistered Vehicle.” They are looking for evidence, trying to get it from you – your own words and your documents! The things you say and the information you provide will be the evidence used against you - either for a large fine, vehicle impound or a possible conviction. Do not help them do this to you. As you can see from the chart above whether you are in compliance with the law is not always clear. You may be incriminating yourself by simply speaking and providing manifest information to hack inspectors and police. Nevertheless, the map is not the territory: any street encounter with law enforcement is a dynamic situation, you must make the best decision as the situation unfolds in front of you.
PROTECT YOUR LIVELIHOOD
Tickets given to properly registered and licensed operators engaged in the legitimate transportation of passengers within D.C. violate the Ride Act. Don't take your rights for granted. If you have been unfairly ticketed contact Riley Legal. Attorney Sean Riley provides professional, legal representation at the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles, the D.C. Office of Administrative Hearings, the D.C. Taxicab Commission and D.C. Superior Court.
Call for a free legal consultation.