TARGET 8 background checks Columbia Uber drivers
COLUMBIA - A Target 8 investigation background checked Columbia Uber drivers and took a closer look at the ride-share company’s safety regulations.
In the past year, several states have implemented stricter background check regulations. In Massachusetts, harsher regulations denied or weeded out more than 8,000 drivers statewide. According to CNN, More than 1,500 drivers were rejected for a violent crime charge. Other reasons for denial included various driving offenses, felony convictions, and sex, abuse and exploitation. The state also identified 51 sex offenders.
In light of this, the Target 8 team took a look at how thoroughly vetted Uber drivers are in Columbia.
KOMU 8 News filed an open records request with the city, asking for the first and last names, and birth dates of currently licensed Uber drivers.
The city released that information for 331 Uber drivers.
The Target 8 team used Missouri CaseNet to background check the drivers, looking for records that matched the names and birth dates of the drivers on the list.
We looked back 10 years for the purpose of this investigation and focused only on criminal and driving histories.
We had to redact 50 names from our data because we were not able to find records confirming the full birth date for charges matching the full name and birth year. Since we couldn’t confirm or deny the charges we found were in fact for the driver on our list, we decided to redact these names from our final analysis.
We ended up with 281 names of drivers in our final data set.
Out of 281 registered Uber drivers, 165 had a clean criminal and driving history.
The Uber drivers with violations on their criminal and driving histories in the past decade break down to the following:
There were no drivers we found with DUI charges, felonies or violent crime convictions.
Uber Background Check Regulations
The company requires every driver pass a background check before becoming a driver. According to Uber’s website, here are things that would cause a person to fail the background check:
- Any of the following in the last 7 years:
- A felony
- Any driving-related offenses
- Violent crimes
- Sexual offenses
- Child abuse or endangerment
- Any of the following in the last 7 years:
- DUI or drug-related driving offenses
- Speeding 100+ MPH
- Reckless driving, street racing or speed contest
- Any of the following in the last 3 years:
- Driving on a suspended, revoked lisence or insurance
- Any more than 3 of the following in the last 3 years:
- Non-fatal accidents
- Moving violations
- Speeding tickets
- Traffic light violations
All 281 drivers currently licensed to drive with Uber in Columbia passed by the above standards.
According to Uber’s website, the company will rerun background checks on its drivers anywhere between 6 and 12 months apart. The company will deactivate a driver if that person does not pass in a subsequent background check.
KOMU 8 News spoke with Janice Finley, Business Services Manager for the City of Columbia, about the background checks the city runs independently of those done by Uber.
“If there’s been a felony conviction within the last 10 years, a misdemeanor for stealing, something that’s relevant. If they’ve had their driver's license revoked due to driving while intoxicated, drugs or excessive speed violations,” Finley said. “That’s when we deny the applicant a license.”
Finley said for the most part applicants have passed the city’s background checks. A few people have been denied, and nobody has had a license revoked.
“Well they have to renew annually, so every year we do a background check on the TNO applicant,” Finley said. “We have not revoked any licenses since they’ve been issued.”
New Missouri Law
According to Finley, starting August, Uber licensing will be handled by the state, not by individual cities as it is now.
HB 130 will allow ride-share companies, like Uber and Lyft, to spread across all of Missouri by creating statewide regulations and licensing.
Rather than individual cities running background checks and providing licensing, the state will be responsible for this, allowing the drivers to operate in any part of the state without needing to be individually licensed in those areas.
Under the new law, rideshare companies will be required to register with the Missouri Department of Revenue in order to operate in the state.
The scope of background check regulations under HB 130 mirrors Uber's in terms of how far back the checks go, and what convictions the company looks for.