Minnesota Association Lobbying for Consistent State Vehicle Laws

Posted on March 4, 2009 by LCT Staff - Also by this author - About the author

MINNEAPOLIS — Having complicated state regulations on vehicle licensing, inspections, and insurance well coordinated and in compliance with U.S. Department of Transportation standards is a top priority for the Minnesota Chauffeured Transportation Association, said President Brian Iversrud. The state does not clearly define licensing categories that vehicles typically used in chauffeured transportation fall under.

“We’re looking for consistency for all operators across the state,” Iversrud said. “If everyone had to operate under U.S. DOT rules, it would weed out problems.”

Minnesota’s luxury vehicle regulations are called LM laws and cover sedans and other luxury vehicles that carry up to 12 passengers, but SUVs are not considered luxury vehicles and are not plated under LM laws and fall under U.S. DOT laws if they carry eight or more passengers, Iversrud said.

“It’s difficult to get an SUV licensed,” Iversrud said. “You don’t get an LM plate, and you’re usually not getting federal licensing since it’s not a motorcoach. You fall into a gray area. Some operators are getting LM licenses and some are getting federal motor carrier licenses. There’s also confusion over seating capacity differences between state and U.S. DOT laws for SUVs and vans.”

Another issue of concern to MCTA is liability insurance coverage standards, which are $300,000 per vehicle under state law, and $1.5 million per vehicle and $5 million for vehicles carrying 16 or more passengers under U.S. DOT standards, Iversrud said. Operators insuring under state LM do not have to operate under the same hours of service standard as do those following federal regulations, and don’t have to drug test drivers. Most operators with vans and SUVs have to commit to more costly inspections and record keeping than those with LM plated vehicles.

“Not all operators have consistent insurance,” Iversrud said. “There are too many gypsy operators at airports and throughout the state. The insurance law and hours in service differ from the U.S. DOT. It would be much better if the Minnesota laws reflect the U.S. DOT.”

The MCTA is also focused on its working relationship with the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport Landside department, which holds quarterly meetings including airport service providers. MCTA has been informing Landside on the federal RIDE Act requirements and how the rules are being enforced at airports across the country. “We have a good relationship and keep them updated on what’s affecting them,” Iversrud said.

The MCTA will update members at its next meeting on March 26 at Majors Sports Café in Bloomington, Minn. Speakers include Thom Dupper of LimoWebWiz on low-cost search marketing opportunities, and Shelley Branson of SuperFleet, which is designed to help fleet managers control their fueling costs and monitor vehicle performance while providing security and convenience.

Source: Jon LeSage, LCT Magazine

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