Legal Requirements For Driving Rental Cars or Passenger Vans


Are you looking for a legal Designated Driving Company or a non-legal driving company? The cheapest service could be the most costly if there is an accident!!!

If you want a driver to drive your rental car the law is below. It is to protect you so click on the red link below! Scroll to the bottom of the page.

The law below;

Hired Drivers (PUC §5360):

  • Hired Drivers are carriers that operate a hired driver services when a rental motor vehicle is operated by a hired driver.  Hired Drivers must submit a Charter-Party Carrier (TCP) application and apply for the TCP authority applicable to their business operations.  Include a letter stating that you will be engaging in Hired Driver operations.

Legal means a licensed TCP License from the state of California! They also have the proper commercial insurance to drive rental cars. Ours is TCP 31148 B and we have mandatory drug & alcohol testing. Also Drivers Licensing checks.

Non-Legal is a non licensed Company with no required state licensing to drive commercially or any required commercial insurance. They also do not have any Drug or Alcohol testing. You would not even know for sure who you getting in the vehicle with.

Commercial insurance is not Farmers, Allstate, Geico etc etc. In most cases it is Lloyds of London for Non-owned vehicle coverage!

So in California in order to drive rental vehicles you need a TCP License. Ours is TCP 31148 B. You have to carry a minimum of a $750K  Commercial Liability Insurance.for 1-8 people and for 12-15 person vans is 1.5 Million. We have that. Ours is with Northland Insurance.   There are only a handful of legal Driving TCP licensed companies that are licensed & insured to drive Rental vehicles. There is about 50 or more illegal driving services in the Napa & Sonoma Valleys that are non-licensed TCP operators with no commercial insurance.

Most of the illegal Napa or Sonoma Designated Drivers companies try to get you to let them sign on to your insurance at the Rental Car agencies. If he/she gets in an accident god forbid, and kills someone with no commercial insurance you possibly could be on the hook. Ask yourself what are you saving by hiring that illegal driving company?

To Do List Checking Driving Companies For Legitimacy.

  1. Ask the driving company if they have a TCP License from the CPUC of California. If they say no HANG UP!
  2.  If you choose to use an unlicensed company please ask the driver to bring a copy of a current DMV report regarding his/her license. You want them to have a drivers license correct? Also notify your insurance carrier you intend to use a company that does not have a State Licensed TCP number to drive your rental car with no commercial insurance.  You have a duty to protect your insurance. If you do not believe that statement please ask your agent.
  3. It is a requirement for anyone to have insurance to drive any vehicle even if your insurance follows you or your car.
  4. Ask them if they have done drug testing and have there clearance to drive.
  5. Would you let a non-licensed building contractor build your house? Yes it is the same!

Here are the links below for the CPUC to prove you need a TCP License to drive rental cars.

 Licensing Requirements for Passenger, Household Goods Carriers

CHARTER-PARTY CARRIERS charter their vehicles for the exclusive use of an individual or group. Examples are a group charter of a bus to go to a sporting event and the charter of a limousine for a wedding. Also falling under the charter-party category are some specialized types of passenger carrier services:

  • Round-trip sightseeing service
  • Transportation incidental to another business
  • Transportation under contract to a business, government agency, or private school
  • Transportation of agricultural workers to and from farms

Information and resources for charter-party carrier licensing requirements

Information and resources for hired drivers using rented vehicles – licensing requirements