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Can a Felon Drive For Lyft?

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Returning from prison presents a major challenge for felons. This is especially true in their efforts to find a job. It is certainly not an easy task. Felons may consider various types of employment opportunities. For those who have experience in driving, they may think about getting a job with a ridesharing company like Lyft.

Lyft is a ridesharing company that operates on an on-demand basis, providing public transportation. The company originated in 2012 and is based in San Francisco, California. It operates in all 50 states and in more than 300 cities throughout the U.S. and provides approximately one million rides per day.

With this wide coverage, there is a high level of demand for rides. This means that Lyft is always looking to hire qualified drivers. While many felons may have the basic qualifications Lyft is looking for, getting a job there may not be such a simple task.

Actually, the question is whether Lyft hires felons at all. Many companies may be reluctant to give those released from prison an opportunity. 

How about Lyft? Let’s take a look. 

In this article, we’ll cover the following:

  •       Does Lyft Hire Felons?
  •       What Are Lyft’s Car Requirements?
  •       Understanding the Lyft Background Check
  •       Things to do if You Get Hired
  •       How to Behave With Lyft Passengers
  •       Can Lyft Fire You After You Start?


Does Lyft Hire Felons?

Those with a criminal conviction, especially a felony, has a chance to be hired by Lyft. The company is known for giving felons a second chance to secure a job to support themselves and their families. While it is not easy to get a job with this ridesharing company with a felony, it is possible. Here is essential information in making this a reality.

Ridesharing companies like Lyft are always looking for qualified drivers to maintain their current roster in the many cities which they presently cover as well as in their constant efforts to grow into new market locations. 

Here are the qualifications to become a driver with Lyft.

An applicant must be at least 21 years old, have a Social Security Number, pass an online DMV and background check, and have an iPhone 5S or newer or have an Android smartphone.

All applicants will need a smartphone to install the Lyft ride-sharing app.

A copy of the most current driver’s license, valid for at least one year must be provided with the application along with proof of automobile insurance, and a vehicle inspection along with a current photo.

Let’s be honest here. Just because Lyft hires felons does not mean that they will hire all felons. 

For this company just as with most businesses that do consider hiring those with a felony record, it will make a difference as to the felony conviction, its nature and severity, and how long ago it occurred.

These are important factors in hiring decisions that Lyft will make and are among the types of questions that Lyft answers through its background check. Of course, as a felon, you would have your best chance at getting a job at Lyft by having your record expunged.

Oh yes, there is always the background check. 

We will take a closer look at what the Lyft background check is all about. After all, not all background checks are the same.

What Are Lyft’s Car Requirements?

Lyft wants all riders to have a safe and pleasant riding experience. After all, as a ridesharing company, they want and rely on repeat customer business. So, they want to know that their drivers have a reliable, comfortable car to drive. 

They look at the car in almost as much detail as they do the driver. A potential driver’s car must meet rather strict criteria. Let’s take a look at some of these requirements.

An applicant’s car must be in prime condition with no rust, broken tail pipes, or broken windows, and no trash inside the car. Most vehicles newer than 2004 will qualify if they have been properly cared for.

For those who do not own a car, Lyft has a leasing program for its drivers to acquire a new or almost new vehicle for a fee each week.

A vehicle must meet city vehicle age requirements and have four doors and offer seating for five to eight passengers. The vehicle must maintain the current license plate with appropriate registration. While the car does not have to be registered in your name, you must be insured to drive that car.

Prior to approving the car, you must complete a Lyft safety inspection that looks at the essential safety features such as brakes, steering, headlights, turn signals, doors, speedometer, and tire wear.

You can see all information about their requirements here.

Understanding the Lyft Background Check

While background checks tend to look for similar information, the Lyft check has some specific questions more related to driving than background checks by other types of companies. So, don’t think that these background checks cover all of the same information because they don’t.

 Lyft states that all driver applicants are screened for criminal offenses and driving offenses as well. Many companies do not look into driving records. But of course as a ridesharing company, Lyft wants to know more than just about criminal conviction history.

After all, their drivers are entrusted with providing transportation to the company’s many riders on a daily basis.

In completing the application, those who apply will be asked permission to perform a background check.

The background check done by Lyft typically covers the past seven years and will rely on county and national databases along with courthouse records at times. It is completed by a third-party source specializing in background checks.

A background check will take approximately 3 to 10 days to complete. Following its completion, an applicant will be notified by Lyft about passing or failing. 

Lyft takes the hiring process quite seriously. That is why they look so closely at an applicant’s background. They want their drivers to meet all their safety standards.

Here are the relevant factors that Lyft looks for in their background check.

Applicants are not eligible to be hired if the background check shows any of the following offenses:

  • A felony
  • Any violent crime whether it is a felony or a misdemeanor
  • A drug-related offense
  • A sexual offense
  • Theft or crimes involving property damage

This list covers all of the information that Lyft looks at in its background check.

A background through Lyft will look at the National Sex Offender Registry as well as the State Sex Offender Registry. Those felons whose name appears on either of these registries will face a lifetime ban from being hired.

While the focus of the background check is on the last seven years and any felonies, some felons who apply may be denied an opportunity to work at Lyft for crimes committed more than seven years ago that may have been misdemeanors at the time. 

Over time, these crimes may be reclassified and are now considered to be felonies. These can trip up an applicant who does not even realize how certain crimes may have changed in terms of their severity. It may be helpful to contact an attorney and be ready for a background check.

In addition to the criminal record review, Lyft will examine a driver’s record through the DMV. A Lyft driver must meet the following driving qualifications:

  • No more than three moving violations in the past three years
  • No major violations in the past three years
  • No DUIs or other drug-related driving violations in the last seven years
  • No extreme infractions in the last seven years, such as hit and run, felonies involving a vehicle, or other similar crimes

The fewer tickets an applicant has, the better the chances of being hired. So, here it may be helpful to check and make certain that all traffic tickets are resolved and do not remain outstanding.

Driving-related issues are obviously extremely important. After all, a history of driving issues might be an indication of future problems. These are issues that Lyft wants to avoid.

In addition to crimes for which an applicant has been convicted, pending legal issues may be considered during a background screening conducted by Lyft. If any such issue shows up, the company can use it in making a hiring decision.

Pending legal charges will show up on background checks, so this may be an issue for some felon applicants. If you have any pending charges, hold up in applying with Lyft. Your application is unlikely to be successful.

So, knowing all of this, it is essential to be honest with them regarding the criminal history or for any driving-related offenses. If any discrepancy is found, you will be unlikely to be hired.

It can also be beneficial to run a background check on yourself prior to applying to see what Lyft will view when they do their check.

Things to do if You Get Hired

OK. You got through the application and interview. You have shown up well on the background check. Then, you get the big news that you have been hired. Is it enough to just show up for the first day without any type of preparation?

Well, no. Give yourself the best chance to succeed.

First, take time to review all rules and guidelines that Lyft requires its drivers to follow. These can range from how to secure a ride, to how to maintain your vehicle, and how to interact with passengers.

Take time to get your car ready for starting the job.

It is important to clean your car and be ready to take on riders. In fact, keep your car clean at all times. Make sure it is in sound operational order. Check the engine and make sure you change the oil. Gas up your car, check the tire pressure, and be ready to roll.

You are representing Lyft and will want to portray a positive image. Not only that, but you want to present yourself in a positive light. Be proud of the opportunity you have in showing off your professional driving skills and in handling the position with honesty and integrity.

Practice matters. So prepare for how to deal with your riders. You will want to treat all passengers with respect and courtesy. You should use your best manners.

To go the extra mile, you might even have bottles of water on hand as well as candy or mints along with chips or some other light snack to offer passengers.

Like it or not, you are always being evaluated by your riders. Be ready for the rating they will provide it on your services. This is how Lyft keeps a check on its drivers, how well they perform, and how they treat their passengers. Be ready at all times.

How to Behave With Lyft Passengers

You know you have the job and have done your homework in preparing for your start by looking over your car. You are ready to take on riders. Well, maybe not until you have planned how to interact appropriately with them.

Remember that Lyft offers its riders the opportunity to rate their driver and ride experience.

Let’s take a moment to consider how you want to treat the people who ride with you, don’t just take it for granted that it will all work out nicely. 

It’s like the Golden Rule. Treat others as you would want to be treated. Put yourself in the rider’s position.

Let’s review some essential tips for satisfying the riders and keeping a high rating while staying in the job. In fact, here is a brief video that gives valuable tips for getting started as a driver for Lyft.

It is important to be extremely polite with riders because they give a rating that can lead to being banned for low scores.

Most rideshare drivers have a dash cam to protect themselves from false accusations. Felons especially will need a dash cam to avoid being inaccurately accused of any offense. Have a dash cam that displays inside the car as well as in the front.

Here are some tips for actions toward passengers.

Never ask for tips. Lyft allows them, but it is important not to ask for them. This can lead to complaints from customers about being pressured to pay more than the agreed on fare and that will result in a bad rating.

It is important not to tell riders that you are a felon. It is important not to engage in any road rage or other aggressive driving. This can lead to being fired for any offense.

Dangerous driving on even a single occasion can lead to deactivation as a driver and not being allowed to take on additional riders.

There should be no awkward conversations with riders. You can maintain a casual conversation but not become too personal. Arrive on time or within 15 minutes of any pickup time request and deliver them on time to their destination. 

There should be no smoking in the car. Most riders do not want to ride with anyone who is smoking or has smoked prior to their ride.

Can Lyft Fire You After You Start?

Of course, Lyft can dismiss you after being hired. That is true of any company whether it is a ridesharing company like Lyft or any other type of business. Each company maintains its particular set of standards, and Lyft is no different in this regard.

Lyft maintains regulations that drivers must meet, not just prior to being hired, but at any point while they are employed by them. For Lyft, it is always concerned about the integrity of its drivers and their compliance with the law.

So for Lyft, they want to know that their drivers have not been convicted of any offenses after going to work for them. Consequently, Lyft routinely runs background checks on its current drivers.

So, in addition to the background check done during the application process, Lyft will also perform annual checks and re-examine all information looking for any changes in a driving record or criminal history. If any discrepancies are found, a driver can be dismissed.

It is important if you are hired by Lyft to be honest with the company if any legal issues come up. This can give you the chance to discuss the issue with the company and may save your job.

Lyft does not want to put itself in a position of having drivers who cannot keep themselves out of legal trouble. By staying on top of the situation with its drivers, Lyft can quickly dismiss any drivers who will cause issues and place riders at risk.

To be successful with Lyft, remember not to hide the fact that you have a felony conviction if it comes up. Instead, explain the facts about that conviction without being emotional.

Take responsibility for past actions and explain how you are putting your life in order. As a felon you need to remember that you are not defined by your crime. We are not defined by our mistakes but in how we recover from them.

So what do you think about this article about whether Lyft hires felons? Have you or someone you know applied for a job with Lyft? What was that like and was he or she successful in being hired? Please tell us in the comments below.

10 thoughts on “Can a Felon Drive For Lyft?”

  1. I just applied to drive for Uber, I have a felony conviction for growing marijuana in 1995 and was convicted in 96. I’ve submitted everything to lift and now I am waiting to see if I pass their background check. I will follow up with you shortly and let you know what happens.

  2. I applied for Lyft, after seeing that convictions of more than 7 years ago would not be counted; however, my conviction from 1996 still got me DENIED in 2019– twenty three years ago. This is for your information.

  3. I have never had a conviction of any kind and was denied by Lyft because I was accused of a misdemeanor by another citizen. The judge found the complaint had no merit and simply a creditor being salty and seeking revenge. But of course Lyft will not answer questions, refer you to a 3rd party who does not respond. How do you get around this.

  4. Hi @Myra…if your FIRST felony is still pending & you apply for your job, you may honestly say you have no felonies! And no it will NOT show up. But if you’re convicted after you’ve been hired? You could possibly work for as long as you can, but don’t be shocked if they find out, either by another routine check, they find it & you’re let go. OR maybe you could’ve proven yourself to them by then & they keep you. If you’d like to keep your job…NEVER tell ANYONE like a fellow employee your business on this subject. One bad day & they may spill the beans. Just FYI. Hope that helped?!

  5. Rich Stone…Hi, yes it’ll always go from your sentencing date. NOT your arrest date. So therefore it doesn’t matter if one committed & was arrested for the crime say in 2010. IF you don’t get convicted/sentenced until 2017? IThe year’s 2018, then your felony gets credit as being only a year old. Hope that helps everyone?!!

  6. Hey @Myra,

    Just apply and see. It probably won’t show up, but they may re-run eventually and that could void any work with them. Just apply and see what happens.

  7. I had a drug related felony charge in 2009, but wasn’t convicted for three years as my lawyer’s wife had brain cancer and the hearings went on and on.
    I applied in 2016 and was refused because off my “criminal record”.
    Therefore, I am assuming it is seven years after your sentencing and not your arrest. Does anybody know for sure?

  8. Well my conviction was well over 15 years ago plus expunged record was doing lyft for about 2 in half years they do a back ground check and drop me don’t get worked for towing company first 9yeasrs quit to get something better and now no one wants to hire me I don’t under stand need help


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