Until recently, the legality of ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft in New Hampshire depended on where in the state you were. Different regulations in different cities and towns made it difficult for rideshare drivers to determine whether they were taking a risk of being fined. Recognizing this problem and acknowledging the changing landscape of transportation and technology, the New Hampshire legislature passed HB 1697 in June of 20161.
This bill regulates ridesharing apps (which are now officially defined in New Hampshire as “Transportation Network Companies” or “TNCs”) on a statewide level, superseding any previously enacted local ordinances. The bill requires that TNCs register with the Department of Safety, but does not require that individual drivers register. This is an important distinction from the previous system, where individual drivers were required to register locally in some places. The new law also mandates background checks on drivers and certain insurance requirements for drivers.
Given the recent controversy surrounding the operation of TNCs in New Hampshire (particularly in Portsmouth2 and Manchester3), the new regulations are considered to be a significant victory for TNCs, particularly those whom are well established. On its website, Uber praises the legislation as being “sensible statewide ridesharing regulations that protect consumer choice, rider and driver safety and economic opportunity4. ” This is likely due to the fact that the new laws impose almost no restrictions beyond the company’s existing policies. At the same, the new regulations also set a regulatory bar that any fledgling TNC will need to meet before launching operations in New Hampshire. This is a burden that Uber and Lyft, who operated free of any regulation during their inception and for years after, were not subjected to.
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