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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 116252
Experience:  All corporate law, including non-profits and charitable fraternal organizations.
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I would like to start a van service in Buffalo, NY. It would

Customer Question

Hello, I would like to start a van service in Buffalo, NY. It would start off with one 15 passenger van and maybe grow to a few more. The goal is to transport passengers from the area to local prisons in order to visit their loved ones and possibly drop off packages on the way there. I am seeking advice on what steps I need to take so that I can legally start and run this business? I also would like to know if an LLC is a good fit since I would like to make sure that my personal assets are never threatened.
JA: Can you tell me what state the LLC is registered in?
Customer: New York
JA: Has anything been officially filed? If so, what?
Customer: Nothing has been filed because I am not sure what steps to take, and in what order.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: The initial driver has a CDL A license, but was charged with a violent felony and is currently on parole. He currently works as a driver but I am not sure if this will cause a problem.
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 5 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
For this type of small business an LLC makes good sense usually. The issue is that in NY, if you are a single member LLC, while in most cases the corporate veil would protect you, you need to be careful not to commingle your assets, keep separate books, keep corporate records and minutes (even if they are just written in a book by you) and also maintain adequate insurance as required. The LLC is certainly the most cost effective entity for this type of business and it would protect your personal assets. Because of the nature of the business though for an added level of security (depending on the amount of your assets, if they are high) you would also consider putting your personal assets into an irrevocable trust so in the event for some reason the court allows piercing of the corporate veil your personal assets have an extra layer of protection as assets in an irrevocable trust are protected even further than the LLC.
The driver would likely not be allowed to drive children or vulnerable adults, so that could be a problem if he has a violent felony.
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Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Thank you for your fast response. Additional questions....1) how do I protect my business from being subject to paying child support payment inclusion if I were to get married to someone in the future that has children?
2)Will the driver with a violent felony (that happened in 2009) be clear to drive people if the vehicle is a regular car or van and not considered a commercial vehicle? Will they be clear to transport passengers if it is within city limits(ex: grocery stores, college students) rather than transporting passengers to prisons outside of the city?
3) How do you start an LLC, obtain a DBA, and obtain a Tax ID #?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 5 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.
1) If the children are not your children, your business has nothing to do with someone else's child support. So if you marry someone with children, the business is your separate property and not subject to your spouse having an interest in it. To further protect yourself, you would have a prenuptial agreement stating that the business was in existence before marriage and she has no interest in the business or proceeds from the business acquired before or during the marriage.
2) As long as the driver is not in contact with children or vulnerable adults as passengers, he can drive and run the errands you suggest.
3) You file Articles of Organization which can be found on the Secretary of State's website or obtained from the Secretary of State's office. You do not need a DBA, but if you want to operate under a DBA you would file your fictitious business name with the secretary of state as well and file a business certificate. The tax ID number is ***** after you file the Articles of Organization and DBA with the state of NY by going to the IRS website and obtaining the EIN number under the name of the business.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Also can you explain to me what a vulnerable adult is please?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 5 months ago.

A vulnerable adult is one who is elderly or disabled physically or mentally.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Posted by JustAnswer at customer's request) Hello. I would like to request the following Expert Service(s) from you: Live Phone Call. Let me know if you need more information, or send me the service offer(s) so we can proceed.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 5 months ago.

Did you have further questions, phone service is additional fees and if we can address them here you can do so by clicking on REPLY. I will send you a phone service offer.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Hi so I am reading over the documentation required to get the authority from the DOT (Dept of Transportation) to operate the van service previously discussed. However the wording is confusing, if I send you a sentence or two verbatim can you explain it better for me please?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 5 months ago.

Sure, please send them verbatim.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Drivers must hold a CDLs if they operate in interstate, intrastate, or foreign commerce and drive a vehicle:1)With a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or gross vehicle weight (gvw) of atleast 26,001 pounds, whichever is greater, or a lesser gvwr or gvw the Secretary of Transportation prescribes by regulation, but not less than a gvwr of 10,001 pounds; or2) designed to transport atleast 16 passengers including the driver or3)transporting a quantity of hazardous materials requiring placarding
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
It is 1) that I don't quite understand....
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 5 months ago.

Thank you for your reply.

Essentially, it means you need a 15 passenger van that weighs less than 26,000 pounds and you are not hauling hazardous materials. It means you cannot have a very large or heavy van and the van manufacturer will be able to tell you the weights of the vans you are looking at buying.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Ok thank you for clarifying. So does the DOT need to grant me permission to operate the vehicles if they fall within that category and doesn't require a driver that has a CDL? Recap: A van service that leaves out of Buffalo NY to area prisons up to 7 hours away, all within the state of NY
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 5 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.
No, you do not need DOT permits. If you are within NY you are not in interstate commerce so you do not need a federal permit either.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
can you tell me what kind of permit I would need? Because I contacted city hall and she said that was not the appropriate office since the van would be traveling outside of city limits
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 5 months ago.

Thank you for your reply.

All you need is your LLC and Tax ID number in this case.

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