In a move hailed by many members of the public and criminal justice advocates, several regulations for rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft have now been softened in Massachusetts to allow more people to pass driver background checks. We will explain these changes in this blog post.
The Previous Standard
Prior to the implementation of new rules, potential Uber and Lyft drivers were subject to stringent eligibility requirements. For example, anyone who had had their license suspended within the last seven years was ineligible to drive. Furthermore, people who were banned from the app because of past legal or criminal infractions were allowed only a digital appeal and no opportunity to attend a hearing to explain their situation. Those with a conviction but in a continuation without a finding (CWOF), meaning they satisfied all aspects of their probation or a deferred sentence, were also automatically banned.
The New Standard
After much lobbying from groups committed to expanding the pool of eligible drivers, the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has agreed to relax the rules a bit on the regulations listed above. Now candidates can apply five years after a license suspension, reduced from seven. Applicants presumptively banned may request an in-person hearing to appeal their denial. People convicted with a CWOF can now get a hearing before regulators if the court settlement is more than seven years old.
That said, the DPU also imposed several new regulations that go above and beyond the old rules. For example, people deemed habitually bad or dangerous drivers will be banned if they have had their license suspended within the last ten years. More crimes were added to the list of banned offenses, including breaking and entering and witness intimidation. From now on, drivers may not drive more than 12 hours in a single day.
Representatives from both Uber and Lyft have said they are reviewing the new changes. However, there is not much they can do from a legal standpoint other than accept the regulations or engage in a lengthy and expensive legal battle with the DPU.
Fighting the Good Fight
If you believe you have been unfairly banned from working for a rideshare company, Thomas Whitney Attorney at Law may be able to help. Contact our Amherst office today at (413) 256-6234 to schedule a consultation with a trusted and experienced criminal defense lawyer.