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Can a Felon Get a TLC License?

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If you live in New York and want to become a taxi driver, you’ll need a TLC license. The question is whether or not as a felon, you can get a TLC.

In this blog post, we’ll cover the following:

  • What Is a TLC License?
  • How to Get a TLC License
  • Background Check?
  • Does the Type of Felony Make a Difference?
  • An Opportunity for Felons?


What Is a TLC License?

There are various licensing requirements for driving a taxi, according to the state in which you reside and work.

The license that a taxi driver in the state of New York must have is called a TLC license, which is issued and regulated by the Taxi and Limousine Commission. If you want to operate a taxi in New York City, you will have to apply for a TLC license and be prepared to meet the regulations set down by this commission.

The TLC license is also known as a universal license, granting authority to transport passengers in a TLC-licensed vehicle. By way of history, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) was created in 1971 to regulate different types of vehicles for rent. These include taxicabs, for-hire vehicles, and luxury limousines in addition to commuter vans and paratransit vehicles. 

The TLC licenses and regulates over 50,000 vehicles and 100,000 drivers.

How to Get a TLC License

There are a number of steps to go through to get a TLC license. First, you must be at least 19 years old to apply for a TLC. You must complete the Application for a TLC Driver License.

Similar to some of the rideshare companies like Lyft or Uber, you will need an approved vehicle that cannot be more than seven years old. Then you will need to be affiliated with a TLC-approved dispatch base for your vehicle. 

You must have the proper commercial liability insurance, including bodily injury liability and property damage liability for that vehicle.

There are some requirements relating to defensive driving training. You need to complete a New York State DMV-certified defensive driving course and pass an exam. Driving training will not be required if you previously had a TLC license that was not revoked or expired. 

If you previously had a TLC license for at least 10 years, you won’t have to take the course.

You must also pass a medical examination no more than 90 days before the date of the TLC application. 

If your regular driver’s license has been suspended, the suspension must be cleared before being eligible for a TLC license.

Background Check?

Here we are again. Yes, there is a background check that will be involved. A drug test will also be required.

This background check will begin with taking your fingerprints. These will be run through a national and likely a state or county database, looking not only at your DMV driving record but also at your criminal record.

As is the case for many driving jobs, you will have to grant permission for the TLC to conduct this background check. You will need to provide your date of birth, Social Security Number, and driver’s license number. This check will typically cover the past seven years. Depending on the results, you may be passed on through or could possibly be dismissed from further consideration.

There are some stipulations that you must meet if you have a criminal record. The court disposition for any crime that you have been convicted of must be submitted to ensure that you have completed the terms of your sentence.

If you are on probation, you must provide a probation status letter from the probation officer indicating that you are complying with terms of your probation.

You must also take and pass a drug test. It could easily take at least a week, perhaps longer, for this investigation to be completed due to all of the components involved.

Does the Type of Felony Make a Difference?

The type of felony is important, as you might expect. The first point is regarding your driving record.

There will be a one-year ban on applying for a TLC license if you have been involved in three or more traffic accidents within a single year. The one-year ban will start from the date of the last accident. 

If you had positive results on the drug test required by the TLC, you will also have a one-year ban from the date of the failed drug test. You will be banned from obtaining a TLC license for operation of a motor vehicle if you don’t have a valid license. Then, you will be banned from a TLC license if you have any offense for driving while intoxicated or on drugs.

Now let’s turn to the types of felonies that will prevent you from being successful in getting a TLC license. There are several that could exclude you from qualifying for a TLC license depending on the circumstances involved in the case.

Crimes involving violence, a DUI, driving while on drugs, substance abuse, or sexual abuse could result in a permanent ban from a TLC license. 

To determine whether or not a potential ban is permanent, the commission will look closely at your record and evaluate the overall seriousness of the offenses contained in it.

There are lesser felony convictions that are still serious and will result in significant consequences. 

The following offenses will result in a one-year ban from a TLC license

  • Bribery
  • Fraud
  • Misrepresentation
  • Theft
  • Threat against a person
  • Harassment
  • Abuse
  • Use of physical force 
  • Possession of a weapon in a vehicle licensed by TLC 

There is a lot to take in here. But the TLC does that to ensure the safety of the passengers that use taxis in New York.

An Opportunity for Felons?

We hope all of that is clear. The upshot here is that there are many felonies that will be a major hindrance to you. 

You need to check for yourself if your record will pass the test. You can begin this by running a background check on yourself. That will let you know exactly what the Taxi and Limousine Commission will see when they view your record.

The other thing you can do is to have your record expunged if you are eligible for that. For questions about this contact an attorney. That will allow you to honestly state on an application that you do not have a felony conviction.

If you are serious about wanting to get a job as a taxi driver in New York and have a felony on your record, take the time to present yourself in the most favorable light. Then you can begin again and put the past behind you.

You don’t have to continue to define yourself by the mistakes you have made. You can move forward and define yourself by how you have responded to those mistakes.

Give yourself an opportunity to live an honest lifestyle and earn a living as a taxi driver in New York if that is your goal.

What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to get a TLC license with a felony? What was that like and what happened? Please tell us in the comments below.

1 thought on “Can a Felon Get a TLC License?”

  1. I have a ACD on my name till May/08/2018..can i apply for toc license? I do have a certificate of disposition which says the same.


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