Finding a good job can be tough. While the chances can be many when the economy is booming, most jobs are low level. This means low wages and often tougher work conditions.
For felons, the issue is worsened by a criminal past. Even with many companies supporting second chance initiatives, preference tends to be given to non-felons.
Therefore, many seek alternatives that can provide a decent return. For those adjusting to new business trends, there has been the question: Can a felon drive for Uber?
The transport business has changed a lot in recent years. Many people no longer stand by the curb to hail a cab. The service has become more convenient thanks to ride-hailing apps.
Uber is the biggest firm in this market. This makes it a prime target for job searches as a driver.
Those that do drive for Uber reportedly earn good money. Some earning as much as $2,000 per week.
For felons trying to earn a decent living and afford quality housing, this can be a big boost. It can also mean being better able to provide for your family and rebuild your credit.
Before we provide an answer to our unresolved question, let’s first delve into what ride-hailing and Uber are all about.
What Is a Ride-Hailing?
Ride-hailing refers to the use of smartphones to arrange for car service. Through a ride-hailing app, a person can pick a vehicle that will drive them to their destination. Payment is also done through this app.
They have become a game-changer that not only gives customers more options but also safer transactions. Cashless payment systems are a good way for transport network companies like Uber and Lyft to monitor transactions. They can keep tabs on revenues, take their cut, and pay drivers easily.
Clients have the flexibility of being able to choose whatever driver and vehicle are in their vicinity. They also get an estimate beforehand that ensures they know how much the service will cost.
Clients get to choose the pickup location. This means better accessibility than other modes of transport that are confined to specific routes. Many have also reported that these providers are more affordable than conventional cabs.
Ride-hailing companies like Uber provide the technology that connects riders with their listing of drivers. They vet the drivers and their vehicles.
They then use GPS tracking to monitor the movements of the vehicles. This data helps to pinpoint the location of vehicles whenever a client goes on the app. They are then presented with choices that fit the service they want, in their vicinity.
As said, the app is also used to facilitate payment through cashless transactions. Customers will usually have linked a debit or credit card, or mobile wallet from which to pay.
Now let’s look at why Uber should be of particular interest to felons.
Uber is the biggest ride-hailing transport company in the country. It has over 800,000 drivers in the US and 3,900,000 globally. It also has a workforce of over 22,000 employees.
Uber has further expanded work opportunities for its drivers. This has been through expansion into other services such as food deliveries and ride-sharing.
The variety of work prospects and strong demand for their services makes Uber a key choice for felons.
The minimal requirements to become an Uber driver are another reason felons should consider this. But more on this later.
Uber offers the chance for a person to work independently. You get to interact with clients and build your reputation. The better the service you provide, the better reviews you will enjoy.
Highly-rated drivers tend to be more often booked. This can mean a steady stream of rides and more revenues.
For those that are yet to buy a car, Uber can help. They offer financing options for those that may find it tough. The cost may be higher, but you will have access to a suitable vehicle to make money off of.
Many that have been in prison appreciate the freedom of movement and lack of in-person supervision.
The flexibility of being able to set your own work schedule is also enjoyed. This allows many to make time for other activities like pursuing education and being with family.
Now we understand the benefits of working under Uber. Let’s move on to whether this is a viable option for a felon.
Can A Felon Drive for Uber?
We begin by recognizing that Uber is a big supporter of second chance initiatives. The company has publicly declared this to help reduce recidivism rates.
The company subscribes to the Ban-The-Box campaign. This movement seeks to have employers remove questions on criminal history in their job applications. This allows for felons to be considered for the job in the early stages without facing bias.
Uber also signed on to the 2016 Fair Chances Business Pledge. This pledge was proposed to help reduce barriers to employment for those with criminal records.
So in answer to the question, can a felon drive for Uber, the answer is yes. Not every felon will qualify, but many have. A visit to their official website will provide testimonials to that effect.
As would be expected, those convicted of lesser crimes have the best chance of being selected. This means misdemeanors and non-violent offenses.
More serious felonies may still be considered, but will likely need to have been old convictions.
For those in California, Proposition 47 helps to knock down some non-serious and non-violent felonies to misdemeanors. Uber is taking an active role in helping felons go through this process.
Hiring chances are however unlikely for those convicted of violent crimes, DUIs, and misdemeanors involving intoxication. With many complaints of sexual harassment, sex offenders are also unlikely to be accepted.
There are no absolute guarantees of being hired even with lesser convictions. But even felons have a reasonable chance of being accepted.
Requirements to Become an Uber Driver
The application process to become an Uber driver is fairly straightforward. There are several requirements to be fulfilled. These include:
- Be 21 years of age or older
- Have at least one year’s driving experience, 3 years if under 23 years of age
- Have a valid driver’s license
- Vehicle registration and proof of insurance
Drivers are also expected to have a vehicle that meets Uber’s standards. The vehicle must also match the type of service you wish to offer. For instance, Uber X providers offer standard sedans while Uber XL drivers provide SUVs.
A smartphone is also mandatory for operating the app. It will monitor your location and provide GPS location on clients.
Some of the requirements may vary depending on the state or city. An example is New York, where Uber drivers must have a Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) driver’s license.
The application is to be completed online, with applicants uploading pictures of supporting documents. Upon submission, you are expected to consent to a background check.
This is a concern for felons, but cannot be avoided if your application is to be considered. Thankfully this check will be carried out without cost to you.
You should get a decision on your application within about a week. If negative, you have a 3-6 month waiting period before you can reapply.
Does Uber Conduct Background Checks?
Yes, Uber does background checks. The company makes use of a third-party firm called Checkr to carry out these checks.
There are some states where background checks do not go back further than 7 years. These include California, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, New York, Nevada, Texas, and Washington.
Others will provide full disclosure, even on cases where you received a no guilty verdict. This includes Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
You will need to do some research to find out what applies to your jurisdiction. An easier route would be to run your own background check using the same checker. The report generated should be the same as what Uber will receive.
It is however noteworthy that random checks done on established drivers can lead to deactivation. It is a recurring theme where highly-rated drivers that initially passed their background check fail when repeated. And despite the good reviews from passengers, they end up having their accounts suddenly deactivated.
Reports indicate this may be an attempt by Uber to clean up after numerous complaints from riders. Many involve incidents of sexual harassment, robberies, and other violence.
Some drivers that have suffered this have also reported reactivation that lasts a few months. This behavior can be unpredictable and should be planned for.
If you feel your criminal record is unfairly affecting your work life, you should consider an expungement.
Drug testing does not appear to be mandatory when being accepted by Uber. It may, however, be raised if clients make complaints of a driver. It may also be a requirement in some states like New York as part of qualifying for TLC licenses.
Getting Your Record Expunged
An expungement is a legal process that seals or erases your criminal record. If successful, it means that when background checks are done, the expunged records will not appear.
It is even legal to indicate, if asked, that you have no record. It simply disappears.
This relief is not easily attainable for those that committed violent crimes. Felons often have to prove they have been rehabilitated and become contributing members of society. Consider consulting a lawyer who can advise you on whether this is something you qualify for.
As mentioned, those in California should look into whether Prop 47 applies to their case. A reduction from a felony to a misdemeanor can help in securing a position with Uber.
Tips to Success as an Uber Driver
- Give Passengers the Royal Treatment
Treating your passengers well is key to securing good reviews. The more highly rated you are, the more bookings you will attract. Speak politely when addressing them, even when they seem rude.
Do not engage in mindless chitchat if the passenger is not in the mood. Many simply want a bit of quiet time till they get to their destination.
- Be Time Conscious
Most passengers are in a hurry to get to their destination on time. And that is why they opted for an Uber over other modes of transportation. Always arrive for pick up in good time.
If you need a break, go offline so the app does not accept any ride requests.
- Keep It Tidy
Ensure your vehicle is clean on both the outside and inside. Regularly wash your car and keep up the maintenance. The more presentable your vehicle is in appearance, the better your ratings.
Do not smoke in the car and take time in between rides to clean up. Some passengers may drop valuables or trash that the next passenger may not appreciate. Be sure to return valuables to their owners as soon as you can.
Given that it costs nothing to make the application, it is certainly worth pursuing becoming an Uber driver. The returns can be quite good and there are many benefits a felon can appreciate.
As mentioned, however, Uber may recheck their background checks. That means that even if you get in, you may not stay in long.
The best approach may be to make a try and if you become an Uber driver, milk it for all its worth. Build up your credit, bank some savings, and use the flexible schedule to your advantage.
Choose a trade or other career to pursue and acquire some education. If things should go sideways, you will have made some progress in pursuing another living.