State: Thousands Fail Background Checks for Uber, Lyft - NECN
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State: Thousands Fail Background Checks for Uber, Lyft

51 of them were registered sex offenders

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Officials in Massachusetts reported that more than 8,000 people, including 51 sex offenders, failed background checks after applying to drive for ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft. (Published Wednesday, April 5, 2017)

    Massachusetts officials say more than 8,000 people - including 51 sex offenders - who applied to drive for ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft in Massachusetts have failed a required background check. 

    More than 62,000 drivers were approved, including some who applied to drive for both companies.

    The background checks were required under a state law approved last year that officials said called for the most stringent background checks in the country for drivers of ride-hailing services. The program is overseen by the state's Department of Public Utilities.

    Of the 8,206 applicants who were denied, the figures released Wednesday show the largest number were turned away because their license had been suspended, they had been licensed to drive for less than three years, or they had multiple serious driving offenses.

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    More than 300 applicants had felony convictions on their record and 51 were registered sex offenders. The Boston Herald said the drivers were let go after Uber and Lyft received the results of the background checks this week.

    Lyft issued a statement Wednesday defending its background check system.

    "Lyft's background checks are fully compliant with Massachusetts law, and we maintain a collaborative working relationship with DPU and the Baker Administration," Lyft spokesman Adrian Durbin said. "However, under Massachusetts law, Lyft's commercial background check provider, like all consumer reporting agencies, is legally prevented from looking back further than seven years into driver applicants' histories. The state does not face the same limitation, which likely explains why a small percentage of our drivers failed the state's background check while passing ours."

    Uber, meanwhile, issued a statement blasting the new screening process.

    “The new screening includes an unfair and unjust indefinite lookback period that has caused thousands of people in Massachusetts to lose access to economic opportunities," the company's statement read. "We have a chance to repair the current system in the rules process so that people who deserve to work are not denied the opportunity.”

    Gov. Charlie Baker defended the background checks, saying Massachusetts has set a "national standard for driver safety.

    "Public safety is a top priority for this administration and we are pleased to have completed this first round of in depth background checks a year ahead of schedule," he said in a statement. The new law initially called for the background checks to begin next year, but Uber and Lyft agreed to start this year instead.

    DRIVERS DENIED FOR:

    License suspension1,640
    Driver licenses less than one/three years1,580
    Violent crimes1,559
    Open cases1,250
    Multiple serious driving offenses1,058
    Inactive license562
    Sex, abuse and exploitation352
    Multiple violations of traffic laws347
    Felony fraud342
    Felony convictions334
    Open/unresolved driving infractions331
    Reckless operation307
    DPU discretion276
    OUI152
    Felony robbery149
    Open warrants138
    Habitual traffic offender78
    Sex offender51
    TOTAL10,506*

    * Drivers may be denied for more than one reason

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