Within a half-decade, Uber has grown into the primary disruptor in the transportation industry. The company has both changed the way that people get around—especially in urban areas—and acted as a leading contributor to the growth of the gig economy. If there has been one shadow around Uber’s growth, it’s driver background checks.
Over the years, numerous Uber drivers have been accused or convicted of assault, rape, reckless driving, and other misdeeds. These instances have put Uber driver background checks under the microscope and caused critics of the company to question whether those background checks are thorough enough to protect passengers.
What do background checks for Uber drivers entail? The answer can vary significantly from city to city, as parts of the country have different laws, regulations, and ordinances that Uber must obey. Uber’s website states that Uber driver background checks will always at least incorporate “a Motor Vehicle Record review as well as a criminal background check.”
During a driving record check, Uber starts by assessing how long a driver has been licensed. Uber will automatically disqualify any driver who does not have at least one year of “licensed driving experience.” For younger drivers—those under the age of 23—the company requires at least three years.
Uber also looks for driving infractions that may indicate a history of reckless or unsafe driving behavior. In most cases, Uber is looking for “major driving violations”—not minor speeding tickets or other small moving violations. However, Uber does note that a driver can be disqualified if he or she has a “recent history of minor driving violations.”
In the case of the criminal background check, Uber automatically disqualifies any candidates with “convictions for felonies, violent crimes, sexual offenses, and registered sex offender status.” “Terrorism-related offenses” are also an automatic disqualifier. Uber will disqualify drivers who have pending charges for these crimes at least until the charges “are resolved in a driver partner or potential driver partner's favor.” Uber says that its criminal history checks include local, state, and national searches.
These requirements reflect Uber’s internal policies for Uber driver background checks and disqualifications. Uber may require additional background checks or approach its driver considerations more strictly depending on state and local laws.
Uber’s background checks are evolving. In 2018, the company started rolling out ongoing criminal monitoring for its drivers. This system will monitor criminal data sources and will notify Uber if a driver is charged with a crime. Uber can then decide how to handle the incident and whether the driver should be investigated, suspended, or terminated.