More than half the ride-hail drivers dismissed in Maryland since December 2015 were rejected for reasons relating to driving and criminal history, the state Public Service Commission confirmed Wednesday.
Among the nearly 4,500 drivers dismissed, approximately 2,850 applications were rejected for criminal offenses or driving-related issues, commission spokeswoman Tori Leonard said. The most common offense, driving history, was cited in 1,703 dismissals. Criminal offenses accounted for about 1,151 of the rejected applications, she said.
(Because some drivers may have applied to work with both Uber and Lyft or sought approval for multiple vehicles, the actual number of drivers dismissed may be lower than the number of applications rejected, Leonard said.)
The commission said earlier this week that nearly 4,500 drivers had been booted for failing to meet the state’s screening requirements since December 2015, when Maryland began processing ride-hail applications. The Boston Globe was first to report on the review, which included about 74,000 drivers and nabbed about 6 percent of them. The applicants had passed Uber and Lyft’s background checks but were rejected when their records were forwarded to the state for approval.
Uber has complained that Maryland’s screening requirements were overly vague, arguing the state didn’t publicize clear guidelines on what criminal and driving offenses would be considered disqualifying. The company said Maryland relied on subjective criteria and had unnecessarily harsh rules, including bans for non-violent drug offenders, making it stricter than surrounding and similarly populated states, according to Uber.
Earlier this week, the Commission said a “good portion” of the dismissals were not safety-related, but Wednesday’s figures showed majority were in fact tied to criminal records and drivers’ conduct on the roads.
The remaining drivers were booted for non-safety reasons, the state said, including non-federally compliant licenses — issued to immigrants living in the country illegally, among others — and insufficient documentation, meaning a driver may have taken a picture of an inspection sticker rather than the required certificate, for example. Lyft cited those two violations as the most common dismissal of its drivers.
But the majority, 97 percent of the nearly 4,500 rejected applications, were from the embattled ride-hailing giant Uber. A breakdown of Uber’s dismissals, including the most commonly cited reasons for rejections, was not immediately available. In addition, Maryland regulators were unable to provide a detailed breakdown of the criminal and driving offenses cited in the dismissals.
In December 2016, Maryland approved an order that bolstered the state’s screening requirements for ride-hail drivers, including a provision that checks encompass a driver’s entire adult life, and scan for convictions in other jurisdictions besides Maryland, Leonard said.
The regulations mandate that drivers arrested or convicted of a crime notify the company within three business days, according to Uber.
Uber lauded the new requirements for clarifying what regulators were looking for, laying out how drivers must be screened and for topping short of requiring fingerprint scanning, the method preferred by some law enforcement experts. The company had threatened to leave Maryland if fingerprint-based background checks were required.
“The Commission’s December order strengthened the process we have been employing, by imposing additional requirements on the TNCs’ screening processes,” Leonard said.