On September 14, 2015, the Nevada Transportation Authority (NTA) issued permits to popular alternative taxi services, Lyft and Uber, to operate their unique brand of services in the state. The legislative proceedings that gave the NTA authority to regulate what are now called network transportation companies and the subsequent NTA proceedings that led to the issuance of the Lyft and Uber permits were widely followed. For many Nevadans following the proceedings, this may have been their first encounter with anything to do with the NTA.
Many Nevadans are probably unfamiliar with all that the NTA does. In addition to its newfound regulation of network transportation companies like Uber and Lyft, the NTA has regulatory oversight of a host of other transportation-related matters.
The NTA was formed for the purpose of regulating and licensing motor carriers operating in the state. A motor carrier is any vehicle operating on the roads of this state for the purpose of transporting persons or property. Anything from a taxi, to a limousine service, to tour bus operators, and even tow cars. Whether you have a single limo for hire or a fleet of charter buses, in order to operate within this state you are required to obtain a permit from the NTA.
When you want to start a new company that offers charter bus service within the state, you go to the NTA for approval. When you want to merge your airport limousine service with a competitor, you go to the NTA for approval. When you want to retire and sell your local tow truck business, you seek the NTA’s approval.
The NTA and those it regulates are governed by a complicated set of statutes and regulations. Navigating NTA processes, such as starting or selling a motor carrier business, can be a long and tedious process, one that requires much paperwork, background checks and, on occasion, an administrative hearing or two.
In addition to regulating the business side of things, the NTA employs a team of officers and investigators whose job it is to ensure that a motor carrier and its drivers and other employees are in compliance with the rules. Just as police officers can issue tickets for a speeding violation or for running a stop sign, NTA officers have the power to pull over a bus driver and issue citations for anything from a failure to carry required identification or other documentation to operating a vehicle that has not yet been inspected and approved for service. The issuance of an NTA citation may require the recipient to appear before the NTA, which holds hearings in Las Vegas and Reno, and pay a fine or, in some cases, it may result in suspension or revocation of an operating permit.
One last thing to keep in mind is that the NTA is generally limited to dealing with motor carriers who transport persons or property to and from points entirely within the state. Interstate transportation is regulated by the federal government.
Working through NTA processes can be fraught with pitfalls if one does not know with what they are dealing. Working with an experienced attorney who knows the NTA rules and regulations is advised. If your transportation business is looking to grow or expand, or you are considering a start up like Uber in Nevada, consult with experienced, competent legal counsel to help you get up and running with the NTA.
Justin Townsend is an associate with Allison MacKenzie Law Firm with primary practice in Business Law, Real Estate Law, Transportation Law, Commercial Transactions and Energy Law. Justin was admitted to practice in Texas in 2010 and Nevada in 2011. He is also fluent in Spanish. Justin can be reached by phone at 775-687-0202 or by email at JTownsend@AllisonMacKenzie.com.
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