Driving is an activity of great pleasure for most of us. But for some, it’s a means to earn a livelihood. The concept of radio cabs has made that a lot easier for many people. Uber and Lyft are shining examples of that culture. It cannot be denied that the idea that we no longer need to step out of the comfort of our home to get a cab is a delight for those who don’t own a car. Granted, most of us don’t do research before ordering a cab. Word of mouth is all the research we need.
But, it is a good practice to learn as much as we can about a new service before signing up for it. And if you are on the other side of the spectrum, trying to get a job with one of these companies it is extremely helpful to find out what are the things you should not do to get yourself disqualified for that job. Today, we look at how that works if you are or want to drive for Lyft.
There is a range of requirements one needs to fulfill before taking on a job with Lyft. Now, no matter how much background research a company does on the individual, there are some cracks in the system that some bad drivers get past. It could lead to an accident on the road or some other untoward incident.
So, as a passenger, it is helpful to know how to spot those signs and keep yourself safe. Think about it. If there is a vehicle collision, don’t you want to know a few things so that it is easier for you and your lawyers to figure out whether you are eligible for any compensation? I’ll tell you right now, your lawyer is going to feel great if you do the basic troubleshooting.
Before we get into how that works, let’s take a look at the basic requirements that Lyft demands from all its drivers. The broad areas that Lyft looks into are:
- Age and license requirements
- Vehicle requirements
- Driving history
- Criminal background check
- National sex offender registry check
Age and License
Every background check starts with your driving record. This is to make sure you have a driving record that is safe and demonstrates that you are a competent driver. To start with, you need to be 21 years of age and have had a valid driver’s license for a year. Otherwise, you cannot apply for a job with Lyft. However, this changes from state to state because many cities have their own driving requirements. For example, California requires all drivers to be at least 25 years of age to be a Lyft driver. But in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orange County, etc. the minimum age is 21 years. Lyft by itself does not have a minimum age requirement.
Lyft will also do a proper DMV check on your record to look for moving violations and criminal convictions. You will be disqualified right away if you have more than three of these moving violations on your record in the last three years.
- Driving without a license or a suspended one
- Driving without insurance
- Reckless driving
- Speeding tickets
- Stoplight violations
- Hit and run
- A DUI in the last seven years
- A driving-related conviction in the last seven years
- A drug-related violation in the last seven years
- Any felonies involving a vehicle
- If you were found in possession of drugs
About licenses—the state law has its own licensing requirement for all Lyft drivers. So that is obviously applicable. In California, for instance, you need to have a valid California license even if it is temporary. There is, however, an exception made for those who are active in military duty and their spouses. They can drive for Lyft with an out-of-state, but valid, license.
Vehicle and Driving History
After meeting the age and license requirements, it is time to look at your vehicle, starting with its age.
- This is also a city-based requirement. In Los Angeles, for example, all Lyft vehicles must be cars that are a 2006 model or newer. If that sounds stringent, you might want to check the requirements in your state because it is relaxed in some other places.
- The car must also have four doors and can seat five to eight people including the driver.
- Taxi cabs and stretch limos are not allowed in this category.
- The car must be functional and cannot be titled as salvage.
There is also a background check which goes on for as long as they are in the program. This means, it starts with your application but doesn’t really end once you get the job. You will be disqualified if any violations were found during the application process and expelled if there is a conviction while in the program.
Criminal Background Checks and the National Sex Offender Registry
This is an area of concern for both passengers and drivers who have a record. Lyft’s criminal background check is based on the prospective employee’s social security number. If you don’t provide a valid number, you will be disqualified. If you do, they will look around in county courthouse records, federal courthouse records, multi-state criminal records for the past seven years. They will also look at the motor vehicle records from the DMV and the national sex offender registry.
This is to screen applicants for criminal offenses or driving-related convictions. They will check state and federal court records will be check to find drivers who have been convicted of:
- A violent crime like robbery or murder
- A sex offense like assault or rape
- Fraud or drug crimes in the last seven years
This is just level one checking. In some cities and states, background checks go deeper. And this is something that Lyft continues to monitor regularly. It’s the same as traffic offenses. If they find a disqualifying conviction like violent crimes, felonies, drug-related crimes or sexual offenses during the background check process, you’re out.
Sometimes, there will be cases of theft and property damage. Those are also grounds for disqualification but the Lyft website states that restrictions are stringent in some places compared to the other. This is based on local ride-sharing requirements. Which means, depending on where you want to drive and what kind of past you have had, your background check might go further back than seven years.
We all know that a felony conviction makes the situation a lot more complicated. We know that it is difficult to find a job with a record. But it is also not helpful to shun those who have rehabilitated themselves. Lyft and Uber are both companies that provide a way for some of those candidates to earn an honest living while having a flexible schedule.
But for those of you who are a bit alarmed by the possibility of being driven around by a convicted felon, here’s some good news. The possibility of these good folks getting a job with any of the ride-sharing service companies depends on a bunch of very specific factors.
Obviously, extra care is taken by the companies to make sure there is no untoward incident on their watch. Remember that when something goes wrong it is a PR disaster for the company that no one wants. And those who want to apply for these jobs need to pay attention to this section here.
First of all, you must apply for the job no matter how slim your chances are. The fact that some drivers make more than $1,000-2,000 every week should be a good incentive. The average is about $20-25 an hour which is pretty good.
Both Lyft and Uber hire about 10 to 15 percent of applicants with a felony conviction in the past. This means one in every 10 or 12 people gets a job that pays well and keeps them on the right path. Thank the speed at which the industry is growing for that. But here’s the kicker. Turns out 90 percent of the applicants never even finish the process of application because they read the requirements and were bummed out. That is not helpful.
The thing to remember is that these companies now want more and more drivers, especially after the controversy caused by the Uber self-driving program. Lyft has decided to go with a more practical approach and not have any of this for a while. That is at least three to four years for commercial rides. So, these companies will need thousands of drivers in the meantime. That means you have plenty of time to carve out a life for yourself.
But also, there are a lot of drivers who really should not be getting these jobs because of their past criminal record. A lot of them with low-level felonies get disqualified. But we all know that some candidates slip through those cracks and end up on the streets making good money. This is because of many reasons. Location is one of the key factors. It should not come as a surprise to applicants or passengers that ride-sharing services consider applicants depending on the demand for drivers. This makes way for some with a criminal history to enter the field.
This is not to say there hasn’t been pushback. Since there have been many complaints of theft, sexual assault and even murders in some cases, ride-sharing companies are under a lot of pressure to do a better job with background checks and rightfully so. The one tip in this context that will honestly help you is this: don’t be a felon and a liar. That doesn’t go anywhere good.
But when there is high demand, the companies usually want to get the background check done as soon as possible and get you earning. The checks are meant to look for major red flags. While felonies and DUIs are not great news, if you have a speeding ticket, don’t run away from the Lyft job application. Finish it and wait for the result. It doesn’t take that long anyway.
Common Lyft FAQs
- How long does the background check take?
According to Lyft, this is done and dusted in 3 to 10 days. The duration varies depending on the number of applicants because a team physically does all the verification and forwards applications to the next level. It might also take longer to process your application if you have lived in many places over the years. If you have been a victim of identity theft, that will delay the process too.
If you are eager, you can contact Lyft after 10 days and they might be able to help you out.
- Can I get a copy of my background check?
You will get a copy from Lyft only if there was a disqualifying factor that knocked you out of the game. This is usually e-mailed to the applicant.
- Can I reapply after failing a background check?
Well, there is no official process for this but most drivers try again in three to six months. If there is a genuine felony conviction, wait for the time period to pass (three or seven years that they look into) and apply once it is out of Lyft’s time frame. You may need to contact Lyft support if you have issues.
If you think your rejection was because of an old conviction outside the time frame or so, you can call Checkr at (844) 824-3257.
Ride-sharing services have become very competitive in the last decade. It is, after all, one of the fastest-growing industries world over. With Lyft’s competitors like Uber hiring drivers extensively and spreading their reach, Lyft has also upped its game.
This is good news for all those who are looking for jobs with these companies. They even have a sign-up bonus which runs into the thousands, depending on where you live. So, give it your best shot. Good luck.