new florida law impacting lyft and uber

How Does Uber Background Check Compare to Taxicab Background Check?

Recently, a South Florida Uber Driver Accused of Raping and Injuring Uber Rider. A young female passenger was allegedly raped by an Uber driver on the last day of Sun Fest. Sun Fest is a music festival that takes place in West Palm Beach, FL between May 3rd and May 7th in 2017. The uber driver allegedly forced her to provide oral sex and proceeded to sexually batter her inside her own home in Jupiter, FL.  The Uber driver threatened to kill the uber passenger if she did not do what he demanded.

Uber obviously removed the uber driver from its service and expressed regret that one of their uber drivers sexually assaulted an uber rider. This issue hearkens back to another article I wrote that looks deeper into the type of background check run on uber drivers and begs the question: what does Uber (and Lyft and any ridesharing company) do to screen those who apply to be drivers). What efforts are undergone to safeguard the well being of Uber’s customers and how does this compare to the background screening process of taxicab drivers?

Taxi medallion holders have an in-person interview after undergoing a fingerprint/level 2 background check that does a seven year review of the potential taxi driver’s criminal record. If any felonies are found in the prior seven years, they are automatically disqualified from driving.

What is a Level 2 Background Check?

A level 2 background check is defined in Florida Statutes, Section 435.04. A level 2 screen involves fingerprinting and screening an applicant’s statewide criminal history with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement + a national criminal history screening through the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Potential Uber drivers do not undergo nearly the same level of scrutiny now. But a new Florida law, HB 221, was passed that goes into effect on July 1, 2017.

What Type of Background Screening Will be Required of Uber Drivers as a Result of HB 221?

HB 221 provides that ride-sharing companies, such as Lyft and Uber, must conduct, or hire a company to conduct a local and national background check with validation of records through primary source searches + a search of the National Sex Offender Database (to see if any prior rape or sexual assault records exist) that is maintained by the US Department of Justice + a driving history search.

Ride sharing companies must run a background check on each of their drivers every three years.

If there are more than three moving violations, Uber and Lyft cannot allow the driver applicant as part of their system.

If there are felony or DUI convictions or sexual battery type crime in prior five years, the ride-sharing service cannot approve the driver applicant.

If there is a match in the National Sex Offender Database, the driver may not work for Uber, Lyft or any other ridesharing service.

I am certainly an advocate of tasking Uber and Lyft with stricter and more stringent background testing. Because of this, I supported HB 221. However, I would have liked to see it go further and require fingerprint for all potential Uber drivers.

I also want to be clear and mention that there really isn’t an ideal background check solution – on any level. Unless someone goes to every county courthouse in the country, some records are going to be missed. Not every database is robust. Even the taxicab level of background screening has its flaws. For example, medallion owners go through the background screening process above, but it is not clear how they screen those who lease medallions (a common practice) to other cab drivers.

Also, background checks will never eliminate Uber drivers who are car accident prone or who are sexual deviants that have just never acted before – or never been caught before.

That being said, Uber is a billion dollar company, one of the largest technology corporations on the planet and they should do as much as they can to ensure the safety of those use use the application – same goes for Lyft and every other ride-sharing company out there.

Uber Sexual Assault Injury Attorney Resources