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Background Checks for Uber Drivers Coming Soon

A new bill proposed in California would require more stringent background checks for Uber and Lyft drivers. The bill remains controversial as it would also include a lawsuit against Uber for false advertising based largely on its claims of driving screening.

The bill, AB24, sponsored by Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian, D-Los Angeles, would make it so that companies like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar were required to obtain not only background checks, but fingerprint background checks, for drivers. These types of checks are already in place for bus, limo, and taxi drivers.

Companies that employ these drivers would also be required to randomly test for drugs and alcohol. Immediate notification to the DMV would be required for any drivers who failed the tests.

According to the California Public Utilities Commission, convictions within the past seven years for DUI, violent crimes, fraud, use of a motor vehicle to commit a felony, acts of terror, sexual offenses, or crimes that involve theft or property damage would bar applicants from being hired.

It is the goal of Nazarian to make it safer for riders who utilize these apps. He points to the current restrictions, of which there are little, as making the use of these companies little more than high-tech hitchhiking.

Though Uber and Lyft claim to already run background checks through private firms, it is known that LiveScan checks cover more databases and are more in depth. Uber and Lyft representatives claim that their current method of background checks is rigorous and safe.

Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Wilson said in a statement, “Lyft provides in-app photos of the driver and vehicle, real-time ride tracking, digital receipts, two-way rating systems, an around-the-clock Trust and Safety team, and professionally administered criminal background checks.

Uber spokeswoman Eva Behrend said in a statement, “Uber’s multi-layered driver screening includes county, federal and multistate checks, and the rating system and traceability of the Uber platform gives riders and drivers unprecedented transparency.”

Opponents of the new bill, including nonprofit advocates, worry that the new law would target people of minority in a disproportionate way. They say that FBI background checks often contain erroneous information that is difficult to dispute.

Whether or not the bill becomes law, the public is urged to use these ride apps with caution and common sense. Hundreds of people use these apps every day without incident, but safety concerns remain high.

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Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.