State Waives Fingerprinting Requirements For Uber & Lyft

The Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) ruled last week that ridesharing companies Rasier, LLC (a subsidiary of Uber Technologies, Inc.) and Lyft, Inc. do not have to conduct fingerprint-based background checks to operate in Maryland, but instead must comply with a set of requirements under an alternative background check process.

Both companies applied for a waiver of the fingerprinting requirements, arguing that their existing processes were more comprehensive. Reports The Baltimore Sun

Ridesharing companies, which revolutionized the industry by connecting paying passengers and drivers through mobile apps, have challenged state regulatory regimes that traditionally focused on taxicabs. Uber had said it would pull out of Maryland if fingerprinting were required. Lyft had not threatened to withdraw, but had noted it doesn’t operate in any markets where fingerprinting is required except New York City.

Both companies signaled they were ready to move forward in the state following Thursday’s decision.

The PSC is requiring the ridesharing companies (“Transportation Network Companies” or “TNCs”) to supplement their existing background check processes to ensure riders’ safety and compliance with laws passed by the Maryland General Assembly last session and in 2015. Those laws established a regulatory framework for ridesharing companies and drivers, including licensing, criminal history records checks, insurance requirements, and assessments.

From the PSC’s press release:

 

The additional requirements include:

  • TNCs must rerun background checks on all drivers annually;
  • Any background check provider used by a TNC must be audited and accredited by the Background Screening Credentialing Council of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners;
  • If a TNC plans to contract with a different background check provider or makes significant changes to its background check process it must provide notice in writing 60 days in advance to the Commission;
  • With each driver application submitted to the Commission, the TNC must provide written certification that the TNC has verified the identity of an applicant;
  • TNCs must require drivers to agree to report arrests and convictions to the TNCs within three business days. The TNCs must then promptly report to the Commission any deactivations that result;
  • TNCs must look back through the entire adult history of its applicants for convictions in Maryland and, where possible, convictions in other jurisdictions;
  • The Commission may order TNCs to revisit a background check of any driver the Commission believes may need to have their criminal history reexamined;
  • TNCs must require drivers to agree to return the company’s trade dress (car decals, etc.) if they become permanently deactivated;
  • Annual reports to the Commission, Commission Staff and the Office of People’s Counsel, on the TNCs operations under the alternative background check, including information on safety-related complaints, changes to internal background check processes, driver deactivations and the total number of active drivers.

Each company will have 10 business days to accept the modifications or else the waiver requests will be denied.