What could be simpler than driving for Uber to earn an income? All you need is a car and a cellphone and you’re all set – right? Not so fast. To drive for Uber, you also need a clean background check. Can felons drive for Uber? Maybe. It depends on how old your felony is. Let’s get into some details.
Can Felons Drive For Uber in 2023?
Driving for a rideshare company like Uber could seem to be the perfect solution if you’ve got a felony on your record. Since you join the platform as an independent contractor, you might think that Uber won’t be interested in your felony because they aren’t actually employing you.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Uber has to ensure the safety of the passengers that use its service, so they carry out criminal background checks and run motor vehicle reports.
So where does that leave you? Can felons be Uber drivers?
Well, that’s going to depend on whether your felony will show up on your background check.
Related Article: Uber Eats Background Check
How Far Back Does Uber’s Background Check Go?
Uber doesn’t have a set number of years they search on a background check. Instead, they comply with state and local laws regarding background checks. Your background check will go back at least 7 years, but it could search your entire history.
13 states have passed legislation limiting background checks to 7 years, but in some of those states where a driving position is considered a safety-sensitive role, the 7-year limit won’t apply. Other states have no limits at all and your background check will reveal any felony on your record.
States with a 7-year limit:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- New York
If your record reveals a felony in the past 7 years, Uber won’t hire you.
An older felony offense that didn’t involve violence, sexual assault, or reckless driving, may be considered, but there are no guarantees that they’ll approve you.
Will You Pass The Uber Background Check?
To find out if you can drive Uber with a felony, you’re going to have to apply and see how the background check comes out.
In addition to the criminal background check, you’ll need to have a clean driving record.
Uber states that background checks are evaluated based on ridesharing criteria that differ from city to city, and state to state, as well as their own internal safety standards.
Most Uber background checks are carried out by an agency called Checkr. But if you live in New York City, your Uber background check will be carried out by the Taxi and Limousine Commission as part of the extensive application process to receive TLC licensing. This is because Uber drivers must be licensed just like taxi drivers. The TLC application fee is $252.
In other areas, applying to drive for Uber doesn’t cost you anything, and there’s no fee for the background check, so you’ve got nothing to lose by applying.
Signing up for the Uber platform only takes around 15 minutes, but you won’t get an answer about your background check right away.
Most background checks take 3 – 5 days to complete, although they can take much longer and you could still be waiting weeks later. Waiting for your results is frustrating, especially if you really need to make some money in a hurry, but there’s nothing you can do to hurry the process along.
If the background check discovers a recent felony on your record, you won’t be eligible to drive for Uber. Uber will also reject you if they find misdemeanors involving violence or sexual offences, driving offenses, or any outstanding charges yet to be resolved.
Why Are Uber So Strict About Felonies?
Uber has received a lot of bad press over rider safety, and multiple lawsuits have been filed against the company. In the past, the background checking process let people through who should not have been driving passengers, and in response, Uber tightened up their policy.
So while your felony may have nothing to do with causing harm to another person or dangerous driving, they may well view you as a risk they don’t want or need to take.
Can Felons Be Uber Drivers In California?
If you’re living in California, you might be able to get your felony reduced to a misdemeanor which would increase your chances of passing the Uber background check. And if you’re eligible, this is worth doing because many more job opportunities will be open to you.
California passed Proposition 47 in 2014. Under Proposition 47, certain low-level, nonviolent felonies are eligible for reclassification by the court and may be reduced to a misdemeanor.
If your felony was for a drug or property crime with a value under $950 and was the first offense, you can apply for reclassification. Eligible offenses include:
- Simple drug possession
- Petty theft
- Passing bad checks
- Receipt of stolen property
To apply, you’ll need to obtain a copy of your criminal record, then fill out and file the reclassification application. The District Attorney will review your file, then notify the court if your offense is eligible for reclassification.
Take a look at this document for more information about eligibility https://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/Prop47FAQs.pdf
Should Felons Apply For Uber?
If you think you’ll be able to pass the background check for Uber, you should absolutely apply so you can earn an income. But there are some pros and cons to weigh up.
Driving For Uber Pros
- No qualifications are required other than a driver’s license
- Easy work
- Set your own hours
- Be your own boss
- Wear whatever you want
- Get paid instantly
- Cashless transactions
As a felon facing barriers to traditional employment, a driving job in the gig economy seems like a lifeline. And being an Uber driver certainly has some upsides.
The only qualification you need is a clean driver’s license. Many jobs – even entry-level jobs – ask for a high school diploma, but Uber doesn’t care about your level of education at all.
Being able to set your own hours lets you work around childcare commitments, gives you time to study on a trade or college course, and gives you days off whenever you want them.
With instant access to the income you earn, you can manage your budget more effectively than when you’re waiting for a paycheck every 2 weeks, and if you need more money, you can go out and pick up more fares.
Driving passengers around in your car is an easy job. You get to sit in comfort all day with the heat or A/C running while you listen to your favorite radio station or podcast.
Driving For Uber Cons
- Not a stable income
- Responsible for all vehicle and fuel costs
- Need to cover your own medical insurance
- No sick pay or holiday pay
- Low fares and fewer customers outside peak hours
- Must purchase commercial rideshare insurance
- Vehicle wear and tear costs reduce your profit
- Lots of competition for rides
- Messy customers
- Repeated background checks
- Must set aside funds to cover taxes
You could find it difficult to earn enough as an Uber driver. You can’t look at the amount you earn per hour as a wage because you need to deduct your operating costs from your income. Earning $20 an hour as a self-employed Uber driver is not the same as earning $20 an hour as an employee. And not understanding this is where many people run into trouble.
You’ll need to pay for the financing of a vehicle if you don’t already own a suitable ride. On top of that cost, are fuel and commercial insurance expenses. Then you must account for vehicle depreciation costs and ongoing maintenance expenses like new tires, oil changes, and repairs.
The cost of vehicle depreciation doesn’t hit home until it’s time to sell or trade-in a vehicle. Your car will be worth much less with all of those Uber miles on it.
Getting sick is another problem for Uber drivers. If you get sick and can’t drive, you won’t make any money, and you’ll need to pay your own medical expenses. And don’t forget, you’ll also need to set aside money to pay your income tax.
Competition for rides during peak times is high and you might not get as many rides as you need. And messy customers (spilling food and drink, vomiting, urinating) will leave you with clean-up costs.
When all costs are taken into account, many Uber drivers find they make minimum wage at best. And felons can make minimum wage in a fast food job where you at least get a stable work schedule and some employee benefits.
Only 3% of Uber drivers stay with the platform for more than one year, which tells you that earnings aren’t as great as you might have heard.
As an Uber driver, you’ll face repeated background checks, and until the background check clears you, you’ll be deactivated and won’t be able to earn any money. Uber repeats the background check so they can remove drivers that commit offenses once they’re hired. For this reason alone, you can’t rely on Uber as a sole source of income.
Whether you can drive Uber with a felony depends on passing the background check. Uber checks your criminal history as far back as state laws allow them to go, and in all states, this is at least 7 years.
A felony in the last 7 years will disqualify you.
If you have an older felony or misdemeanor that involves violence or sexual assault or disqualifying driving offenses, then you won’t be cleared to drive for Uber.
Other felony offenses may be considered depending on the nature of the offense and on how long ago it took place.
It costs nothing to apply to Uber, and the application is quick and easy, so the best thing to do is apply and see what happens once you’ve made sure that the finances will work out in your favor.
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Robert Eric (a lover of Cats and Dogs) is the co-founder of HireFelonsJobs. In our search for a better life, after… A platform was created for the purpose of easing the search for ex-convicts.