Licensing Requirements for Chauffeur Driven Cars

by Dennis Hartman; Updated September 26, 2017

Each state is responsible for setting policy and enforcing rules for automobile licensing, including the license plates and registration documents that apply to vehicles driven by professional chauffeurs. Car services, taxis and limousine rentals require special license plates, known in some states as livery licenses, to operate legally. These licenses fall under state or city jurisdiction and have different requirements from consumer vehicle licenses to ensure that livery customers are safe and businesses comply with local laws.

Vehicle Licenses

All livery vehicles need licenses to operate legally. In most cases, this requires the livery business owner to seek a conventional registration for each vehicle from the state, which requires paying a fee based on the vehicle's weight and affixing registration tags to the license plate or windows. Livery license plates are different from regular car license plates. Some states, such as California, only charge fees for custom plates, while others, such as Ohio, charge a fee ($7.50 as of June 2011) for each livery plate. Cities can also require their own licenses, which they use to control the number of livery vehicles in operation.

Driver Licenses

Chauffeurs need special drivers licenses to be able to operate livery vehicles legally. The requirements for a chauffeurs license generally include a clean driving record, an application fee and, in some cases, successful completion of a driving text. States and cities may require chauffeurs to display their licenses in their vehicles at all times, meaning that even a licensed driver can't drive a licensed car legally without placing his license where passengers can see it.

Business Licenses

The livery business behind a chauffeur driven car must have a valid business license in the area where its drivers operate. Business licenses provide tax identification information that allows a livery business owner, who may or may not be a chauffeur herself, to withhold taxes from workers' paychecks and file business income tax each year. Business licenses allow a livery company to operate a fleet of vehicles in a particular jurisdiction, but they do not usually need to appear in the cars themselves.

Loss of License

Several different acts or situations can cause a chauffeur driven car to lose its license and become inoperable for business purposes. Drivers who cause accidents or violate state alcohol policies are at risk of losing their licenses, though their vehicles remain licensed for a livery company's other licensed drivers to operate. Ordinances, such as the one in the city of Portland as of June 2011, that requires all taxis to be neat and clean, subject chauffeur driven cars to loss of license following a violation. Other violations that can lead to a license suspension include charging illegal fares, improperly soliciting business and removing or obscuring a chauffeur's displayed license within the car.