Before you can begin earning income as a rideshare driver with Lyft, you must go through a background check process. In accordance with state and federal safety standards, Lyft seeks to ensure that every driver in their company provides safe journeys for riders.
People often have a lot of questions about these background checks when getting ready to apply to drive with Lyft. Some have questioned the intensity of Lyft’s background check, and others have considered their standards to be too lax.
Either way, if you are considering driving with Lyft, you will want to know everything about their background check before applying. We’re here to help you, and this post will prepare you for Lyft’s background check and all that it entails.
What is Lyft’s Background Check?
In order to qualify to drive for Lyft, you are required to undergo a background check. Once you create an account with Lyft, you will provide them with the information necessary for a background check as part of your application process. Lyft used to include a mentor session as part of their application process but have done away with this portion.
Lyft uses a third-party company to complete their background checks, called Sterling BackCheck. This company will use your social security number to perform an extensive check on your driving history and criminal records (if applicable). This check complies with federal and state standards.
Lyft doesn’t only perform this background check when you apply. They also perform yearly checks, and re-run all of your information to make sure you haven’t had any changes in your driving record or criminal history. So, even if you are accepted as a Lyft driver, you’ll want to keep your driving record clean to avoid deactivation.
Lyft notes on their website that in New York City, “DMV and criminal background checks are conducted by the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) according to their licensing standards, not by Lyft.” So if you’re driving in New York City, Lyft is not doing your background check.
Lyft’s background check enables them to ensure they are meeting safety standards and protecting both their drivers and riders.
What Do They Look At?
When Sterling performs Lyft’s background check, they will examine two separate areas.
First, they look at your driving record, making sure that you are a capable and safe driver. You will not be allowed to drive for Lyft if the following are found on your driving record:
- More than 3 moving violations in the previous 3 years, such as
- Speeding tickets
- Stoplight violations
- Driving without insurance
- Any major violations in the previous 3 years, such as
- Driving with a suspended license
- Reckless driving
- A DUI or any drug related violation in the previous 7 years
- Driving related convictions in the previous 7 years, such as
- Drug possession
- Hit and run
- Other felonies that involve a vehicle
Lyft is also checking to make sure that you are at least 21, and have had a valid driver’s license for at least one year.
Second, they will perform a criminal background check. This will screen all applicants for any criminal offenses or driving related convictions. Sterling will use the provided social security number to search the following databases for matches:
- Previous seven years’ county courthouse records
- Previous seven years’ federal courthouse records
- Previous seven years’ multi-state criminal records
- Motor vehicle records from the DMV
- National sex-offender registry.
If any of the following crimes is discovered through this search (in the previous seven year period), the applicant will be automatically ineligible to drive with Lyft:
- Violent crimes
- Drug related crimes
- Sexual offenses
- In certain cases, theft and property damage convictions
These are typical reasons for being disqualified, but Lyft’s website stipulates that “more restrictive standards may apply based on local requirements specific to ridesharing. Lyft reserves the right to disqualify a driver at any time should either their driving record or background check reveal any of the above items or for any other safety-related reason at Lyft’s discretion.”
Lyft also may look farther back than seven years, if more serious crimes that warrant disqualification occurred before the seven year period.
How Long Does It Take?
According to Lyft, your background checkH should take anywhere from 3-10 days to process and complete. Most drivers report it taking 3-5 days, which is shorter than the average Uber background check. However, several things could contribute to this taking longer.
If there is a high volume of applications, it may slow down the process. Ultimately, the decision to accept a new driver is made by a person, not a computer, so if a lot of applications come in at once, it will take longer for those responsible for hiring.
Background checks also might take more time if your application runs into any snags. This could happen if you’ve lived in several places, requiring several county level searches.
Lyft also performs vehicle checks to make sure the car you drive is appropriate for ridesharing and meets all of their safety standards. This can add to application time as well.
You can check the status of your application by going to Lyft.com/drivers. If you find that nothing has changed after the 10 day period, you can contact Lyft support to find out if there is a specific hold-up. However, Lyft does say that background checks can sometimes take up to several weeks.
Unlike with Uber, whose communication is sometimes hit or miss, you should receive an email and text from Lyft once you’ve been accepted as a driver, and you are set to begin accepting rides.
What Happens If I’m Disqualified?
There are a few different things you can do if you are disqualified and not accepted as a Lyft driver.
First, if you feel you have been unfairly disqualified, Lyft’s website tells you, “If you do not pass your background check, you’ll get a copy via email and instructions on how to dispute the results.” You can then get in touch with Lyft regarding the specific reason you did not pass and why you’d like to be reconsidered.
If you do not wish to dispute, you can wait and apply with Lyft again after 3-6 months. Lyft doesn’t actually specify a time period to wait to reapply, but this is generally how long people have reported waiting.
Lyft takes these applications on a case-by-case basis, but drivers are rarely hired if they have been previously rejected. If you do decide to reapply, take the time to understand what went wrong the first time, and get in touch with Lyft before doing so. If it was a problem with your background check or DMV check, you can request copies of these for yourself.
How Can I Avoid Being Disqualified?
Before you apply to be a driver with Lyft, you’ll want to make sure you do everything you can to ensure that you pass both their driving record check and their criminal record check. In certain cases there’s not much you can do, but it’s worth getting copies of both of these for yourself before applying with Lyft if you are unsure what they will see.
If you have any minor traffic violations on your record, you might be able to remove them by taking a traffic safety class. This is usually only an option for a few months after you’ve received your ticket, and you’ll want to check and see if this is still an option for you.
Another reason to request a copy of your records is that you may only need to wait a short time to apply if your violations or charges happened close to three years ago, and you can put off your application until that time.
When it comes to criminal offenses or convictions, in some cases you can apply for expungement of certain violations or convictions if you’ve paid your fine and a certain amount of time has passed.
Dismissed charges should not appear on your background check. You’ll want to check your state laws on expungement to find out if this is an option for you before applying.
It’s worth noting that Lyft actually does accept some drivers with felonies on their records if the charges are not violent in nature. If this is the case for you, you may want to contact Lyft directly about this while applying to see if they will consider you in spite of your conviction.
Lyft’s background check takes some time and can cause problems for some people, but are put in place to protect the safety of both drivers and riders with the company. Many cities have faced pressure to require even more in-depth checks, such as fingerprinting. While this hasn’t happened yet, it does signify that the background check, if anything, will only get more extensive.
This guide should help you to feel prepared for the background check, as well as take certain measures to avoid unnecessary rejection. Once you pass your check you’ll be ready to start taking rides with Lyft and earning more as a driver!