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Can a Felon Become a Taxi Driver?

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Completing a prison sentence puts felons in a challenging position. Not only do they face the issue of returning to their families and society, but there is the overwhelming obstacle of getting a job. Felons may think no one will hire them, but there are resources available.

Those who have hired felons have learned that they make good employees, but it might be in a different career from one felons had previously. They will have to be willing to start a different career.

This blog post will address the question of whether or not a felon can become a taxi driver.

  • What Is a Taxi Driver?
  • What Education/Training Does a Taxi Driver Need?
  • How Much Does a Taxi Driver Earn?
  • An Opportunity for Felons?
  • Recommended Action


What Is a Taxi Driver?

A taxi driver (or cab driver) takes people places they need to go, such as airports, work, shopping, or other locations. A taxi driver must know the way around a city to take passengers to their destinations.

A taxi driver uses a meter to calculate the fare when a passenger requests a destination. Many customers request a cab by calling a dispatcher. Some drivers pick up passengers waiting in lines at airports, train stations, and hotels.

A taxi driver typically does the following:

  • Drives a vehicle to transport passengers
  • Picks up passengers and drives them where they want to go
  • Helps passengers load and unload their luggage or other items
  • Obeys all traffic laws
  • Does basic cleaning and maintenance on the vehicle
  • Keeps a record of destinations and miles traveled

A taxi driver must remain alert and watch the road conditions. He or she has to take precautions to ensure passengers’ safety, especially in heavy traffic or bad weather. A taxi driver must also follow city regulations such as how much they can charge passengers.

A successful taxi driver must have many skills, including:

  • Customer-service skills to interact with customers and to ensure passenger safety and satisfaction with the ride
  • Dependability to pick passengers up on time and quickly transport them to their destination
  • Communications skills to converse with passengers
  • Good eye-hand coordination to watch their surroundings and avoid obstacles and other hazards while driving a vehicle
  • Ability to work with independently
  • Knowledge of the city in which he or she is driving
  • Patience when driving through heavy traffic or dealing with rude passengers
  • Good visual abilities to be able to pass a state vision test for a driver’s license
  • Good defensive driving skills
  • Good judge or character to determine safety with passengers

What Education/Training Does a Taxi Driver Need?

There are usually no formal education requirements, although most taxi drivers have a high school diploma or a GED. Most taxi companies provide their drivers with on-the-job training which usually takes from one day to two weeks, depending on the company and the location. Some cities require training by law.

Training typically covers local traffic laws, driver safety, and the local street layout. Taxi drivers also get training in operating the taximeter and communications equipment. The exact requirements to become a taxi driver vary according to the state and city of residence, as well as the company.

Some basic requirements can include:

  • Meeting the minimum age requirement
  • Submitting a driver’s history report with a clean driving record free of major incidents being required in most states
  • Submitting a criminal background check – Any history of criminal offenses may be cause for disqualification
  • A drug test
  • Passing a chauffeur’s licensing exam in some states
  • Proof of residency and/or U.S. citizenship
  • A valid state driver’s license for the state of residency
  • Passing a written exam regarding driving regulations and local geography

How Much Does a Taxi Driver Earn?

The U. S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, states that there are approximately 305,100 taxi drivers in the U.S. The annual average salary for a taxi driver is $25,530. The salary of a taxi driver will depend on several different factors, including:

  • Whether or not someone works for a company or is self-employed
  • The type of vehicle driven
  • Compensation from tips
  • The time of day someone works
  • Region of the country, whether East or West coast
  • Whether it is a metropolitan area

Overall employment of taxi drivers is expected to grow 5% from 2016 to 2026, about average for all occupations.

An Opportunity for Felons?

First, felons must have a valid driver’s license. Depending on how long their sentence was, and often it was quite lengthy, many felons come out of prison without a valid driver’s license.

Since most felons report to a halfway house for a period of time upon release, one of the stipulations they must meet in getting a job is to obtain a valid driver’s license. Taxi driver requirements state that all applicants must be subjected to a background check.

Further requirements state that the background check will cover national and local databases, often including courthouse records. Applicants will be denied employment as a taxi driver if a criminal record is discovered which has a conviction in the past seven years for a felony, a violent crime, a drug offense, a sexual offense, or particular theft or property damage offenses.

It is important to be honest when applying for a job as a taxi driver. If a felony isn’t disclosed but is found on a background check, this constitutes fraud and is punishable. It is a crime to falsify an application which could result in being sent back to prison. It is encouraging that a felon can get a job driving for Lyft or Uber.

In order to be successful as a taxi driver it is essential for felons to be honest about their background. They are already viewed with negative perceptions of being dishonest, untrustworthy, and unwilling or unable to follow directions from authority figures.

Having their record expunged can give them the chance needed to begin with a clean record and succeed in becoming a taxi driver. Expunging a criminal record allows anyone to honestly state on an application that he or she has not been convicted of a crime.

Recommended Action

It is a significant challenge, but it might be worth it for a felon that wants to become a taxi driver. Having his or her record expunged and also documenting any training programs or additional education could make the essential difference in a felon succeeding.

Having support from family, friends, or previous employers can make a huge difference. A felon doesn’t have to be defined by his or her crime. We are not defined by our mistakes but by how we recover from them. He or she can begin again and live an honest life no matter how difficult it might seem.

What do you think about this blog post? Are you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to become a taxi driver with a felony? What was that like for him or her, and how did he or she achieve success? Please tell us in the comments below.

1 thought on “Can a Felon Become a Taxi Driver?”

  1. I am a convicted felon, yet have had no problem obtaining a chauffeurs licence in several cites, actually. I currently work in the taxi business as a full time driver. I have not had a crime in at least 10 years and had no prior criminal history, prior to the one incident.


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