Uber eases screening requirements for drivers with criminal past

Katie Marzullo Image
ByKatie Marzullo KGO logo
Thursday, January 14, 2016
Uber eases screening requirements for drivers with criminal past
In an effort to comply with California's Prop 47, Uber will relax California screening requirements for drivers with a criminal past.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The next time you hail a ride on Uber, the person who picks you up may have a criminal history. The company revealed it is relaxing screening requirements for drivers.

Uber says this is an effort to align itself with California's Prop 47, the voter-approved measure passed in 2014 that redefines some non-violent felonies as misdemeanors. It's a way to give people a second chance, but the reaction is mixed.

Petty theft, forgery, or drug possession are some of the crimes your next Uber driver may have been convicted of one of.

"I think they would need someone to really look into that person and see if they'd be a good fit for the public," San Francisco resident Sherry Schaffer said.

"Everybody deserves a second chance, especially if it's non-violent," San Francisco resident Tessa Thompson said.

"I would like a screening, but I'm not sure how I'd feel if it's non-violent," San Francisco resident Charlane Brady said.

While some Uber users are on the fence, San Francisco's deputy chief of staff for public safety Paul Henderson said helping offenders find work is critically important.

"We have to build better pathways to bring them into the workforce so that they can contribute both to sustaining themselves and the communities in which they live," Henderson said.

The chief security officer for Uber said in a statement: "California voters told us when they overwhelmingly passed Proposition 47 that people with nonviolent, low-level offenses must be given a chance to get back on their feet. To do our part, we can make sure people have a fair chance to earn a living with Uber. Moreover, as a technology platform, we can focus on safety before, during and after each ride in ways that are more fair and effective than relying on criminal records alone."

Uber drivers we spoke with had the same mixed reaction as riders.

"Even if they got rid of the past, you don't know what's going to happen in the future. I think it's still not safe," Uber driver Mohamed Alowdi said.

"If they were convicted of non-violent crimes in the past and they went through the system to correct their behavior, I don't see why not," Uber driver Fuad Bajramovic said.

Uber says it will continue to disqualify divers convicted of a felony or a driving-related or violent misdemeanor.