Uber Driver Background Checks — Is Your Maryland Uber Driver Safe?

Uber & Lyft Accident

A review of Uber’s website regarding background checks reveals that a background check includes a review of the driver’s motor vehicle record and criminal record. The company lists various situations that result in disqualification, such as convictions for violent crimes, felonies, and sexual offenses. Major traffic violations or recent minor traffic violations may also result in disqualification of a driver.

However, state and local laws may expand criminal background checks or add additional criteria that Uber must follow when reviewing the results of a background check. Therefore, in addition to Uber’s requirements for a background check, you must also look for additional information related specifically to rideshare background checks for drivers in Maryland.

Uber Has Had Problems in the Past With Background Checks

Uber has been in the spotlight before because of alleged inconsistencies and insufficient background checks. In a 2016 lawsuit, Los Angeles and San Francisco alleged that Uber had misled the public regarding the background checks performed on Uber drivers. Uber did not admit any wrongdoing when it settled the lawsuit, but it agreed to pay a $25 million settlement and comply with all state consumer laws.

Numerous news stories have been published alleging that passengers are not safe because rideshare services fail to perform adequate background checks on drivers. Uber uses a third party service to perform its background checks.  The service does not use fingerprints as part of the background check unless it is required to do so by state or local laws.

To boost confidence in its services and assure passengers that Uber drivers are thoroughly screened for potential problems, Uber announced in April 2018 that it would be conducting annual reruns of criminal and motor vehicle checks each year regardless of whether the local jurisdiction requires an annual background recheck.

Just a few months later, the company announced that it had partnered with Checkr and Appriss to receive real-time data collection related to newly filed criminal offenses. The new technology could result in more up-to-date information which would allow the company to remove drivers who may pose a threat to passengers based on recent criminal charges.

What is Maryland’s Position on Uber Background Checks?

Maryland’s Public Service Commission approved an alternative background check process for Uber in December 2016. The PSC approved the process in place of fingerprinting-based background checks. Uber argued that its commercial background checks were more comprehensive and accurate than the fingerprint-based background checks.

Instead of fingerprinting, the PSC instituted additional requirements for Uber background checks that it felt were necessary to ensure public safety. For instance, the background check must include the entire adult history of convictions in Maryland and in other jurisdictions, when possible. Another addition is the condition that the PSC may order the company to review a background check for an individual that the PSC believes may need further examination. So far, Maryland has rejected thousands of applicants since rideshare services were regulated in Maryland.

How Can You Be Safe When Using Uber Services in Maryland?

Stepping into a vehicle with a stranger can be unnerving, especially in an unfamiliar city. However, millions of people do just that each day throughout the United States.

Uber offers several tips for passengers to stay safe while using rideshare services.  Some of those safety tips include:

  • Make sure you are getting into the correct vehicle. Before getting into the car, check the license plate, driver name, and driver photo against the information provided in the Uber app.
  • Sit in the back seat whenever possible to give yourself additional personal space. Sitting in the back seat also allows you to get out of the vehicle from either side of the car if you need to do so quickly.
  • Share your trip details with someone. You can choose the “Share Status” in the Uber app to share your driver’s information, your location, and your designation with a friend. Your friend can track your progress without downloading the Uber app.
  • Always wear your seat belt whenever riding in a vehicle.
  • Do not share your personal information with the driver. You and your driver can contact each other through the app, if necessary.
  • Trust yourself! If something does not feel “right” or your instincts are telling you something is wrong, don’t get into the vehicle or terminate the ride immediately. If necessary, call 911 to request help.

Another tip you may want to use is to share Uber rides with family and friends. If possible, share your Uber rides so that you are not alone in the vehicle with the driver or the time you are alone with the driver is minimized.

Contact an Uber Accident Attorney for Help

If you are injured in an Uber accident, we want to help. Contact the Pinder Plotkin legal team for a free consultation with one of our Parkville Uber accident lawyers. You may be entitled to compensation from Uber or another party depending on the facts of your case.

Contact our law firm by calling 410-661-9440 for your free consultation with a Maryland Uber attorney.


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