If you have a felony conviction and are struggling to find work, Lyft and Uber jobs can be a good option to earn a decent income, while maintaining a flexible schedule.
Both Lyft and Uber hire felons.
However, your particular chances of getting a job with one of both of these ride-sharing companies will depend on many specific factors. We will discuss a felon’s chances of becoming a driver for Uber or Lyft, and lay down the requirements of this job.
Even if you think your chances of getting hired as a felon are slim to none, you should still apply! The financial incentive is worth it: some drivers make upward of $1,000-2,000 per week. The average driver reportedly makes about $1,300 per week, which is equivalent to $20-25 per hour. Not too shabby! So how can a felon start driving for Uber or Lyft?
UBER and Lyft need new drivers, and they want YOU!
Ride sharing is a very competitive business. Lyft, along with its main competitor UBER are very aggressive at recruiting new drivers. Both offer hefty sign-up bonuses of as much as $2,000, depending on your city, for new drivers!
Currently, Lyft & UBER accept about 10-15% of applicants with a past felony conviction. That is one out of 10-12 people that can get a great paying job in the fast growing industry.
However, 90% of applicants never take the necessary steps to apply. They fill out the initial application, but never finish it. So if you do apply – finish your application process!
If you already have a Lyft App installed, you can still get a Driver sign-up bonus – use referral code HIREFELONS.
These companies NEED more drivers, especially in new markets, and are very aggressive in their hiring process, and business development. Even more so after UBER’s self-driving program fiasco, which was supposed to be rolled out by 2019, but is now pushed back at least by 3 years!
In light of UBER’s self-driving program issues, Lyft is taking a much more careful approach, and will also not have any meaningful number of self driving cars on the road, doing commercial rides for at least 3-4 years.
This means that both companies will need many 1000’s of new drivers, to provide service to over 330,000,000 US population.
However, with massive push back from riders – complaints of robberies, sexual assault and even murders, both companies are under serious pressure and scrutiny to improve background checks on their drivers.
While both companies claim to run very thorough criminal background checks and be very strict in their driver selection process, the reality is that there are MANY folks who should not be drivers (based on their criminal records), but they are, and make very good money.
Do understand, that our goal is NOT to make it look easy to get a ride sharing job when you have a felony. The majority of people even with low level felonies get denied from this line of work. However, we know many who do get these jobs.
Numerous factors can be at play here, and THE BIG ONE is your location. In some areas, depending on demand for drivers, both Uber and Lyft are more open to considering people with a past criminal history.
Lyft Background Check
Here is the company’s official stance on criminal records and background checks for new drivers:
Every driver is screened for criminal offenses and driving incidents.
Lyft’s criminal background check is provided by a third-party and includes national and county-level databases, and when necessary, local courthouse record checks. You will be ineligible to drive on the Lyft platform if, among other things, the background check reveals convictions for any of the following in the past seven years:
A violent crime
A drug-related offense
A sexual offense
Certain theft or property damage offenses
So as you can see – if you had a felony conviction (or others listed above) in the last 7 years, you will most likely fail the background check and won’t get the job. However – if your felony is OLDER than 7 years, you should have a much higher chance of being hired, and can start earning pretty good money.
That being said, there are a lot of instances, where felons were denied employment at Lyft for crimes committed more than 20-30 years ago. Moreover, many applicants have been rejected because of minor misdemeanors, which are not even considered felonies, if these showed up in the check.
Overall, the guidelines and process for conducting a background check at Uber are pretty much the same as at Lyft. Sex offenses, violent crimes and drug related charges are grounds for automatic disqualification. Often it does not matter how long ago the crime took place.
On the other hand, based on word of mouth reports from felons, Uber seems to have a more lenient hiring policy for ex-cons. Many people report getting a job with Uber, while at the same time being denied a job at Lyft.
What this means is that you should apply with both companies, because you never know where your luck with catch up with you.
Being deactivated as a driver!
There have also been reported cases of being suddenly deactivated after working for Uber for some time and having a stellar driving record and close to 5 star reviews.
Unfortunately, this is something that can happen, because Uber can choose to run a random background check on any driver at any time. Felons report failing a subsequent background check, after passing the initial one during the hiring process.
There is not much you can do, if you get deactivated as a driver and loose your job. The best word of advice if you are considering getting into the ridesharing economy is to look at it as a part time, temporary gig.
Since you can loose this job at any moment, you should try to be prepared:
– try to have some savings to fall back on
– look for a more stable job as you are working for Uber or Lyft
– enroll into a degree program that can set you up for a more promising career in the future
What you should do if you are hired
Ok – this is a huge topic, and falls outside the scope of this guide, so I will only cover the basics here.
First of all, you need to always keep in mind that it is VERY easy to lose this job and if this happens – that’s it, THERE IS NO GOING BACK!!!
So follow the tips bellow 100%, and most likely you will not get “deactivated”. I have several friends who were ride share drivers, but for stupid mistakes were deactivated and cannot ever get back in again!
Once you are approved as a driver, you need a CAR – a decent car, or at the very least “newer” and very clean! Some will say “duh!” but trust me on this one.
Your car must be in very clean/pristine condition: No rust, smoke, falling tail pipes, broken windows, or trash inside. No ripped trim either! If you get several complains for the quality of your car, you will be banned!
Basically you don’t need to have a brand new or even a 2-year old vehicle, but definitely not a clunker. Also, Lyft has an approved list of cars that you can drive. In most cities your car must be no older than 2004… in some cities 2006 or newer.
Check out the full list of Lyft approved cars here.
If you don’t have a car, don’t fret! Lyft has Renting/Leasing program for approved drivers, where you can pay a fixed weekly rate for a brand new or fairly new car for just $209/wk – All-inclusive rentals with unlimited mileage, while Lyft takes care for the rest (with limitations of course).
Bottom line, even if you are carless, or have an old clunker, you can still drive for Lyft!
I’ve taken a Lyft ride recently, and the driver said he did not own that car (it was rented from Lyft), and that it was relatively inexpensive ($209/wk, including insurance!), and he was still making pretty decent pay, even with rent payments!
Be extra polite with riders: If you get several bad reviews, and your rating falls (there is no hard number, but 4.5 out of 5 stars is bad), you will be banned.
Many drivers now days offer free water bottles to riders, and vacuum their cars every 5-10 rides!!!
Get a Dash Camera!!! Most ride share service drivers now have dash-cams, to protect themselves from frivolous/meritless accusations or in case of an accident, to have hard proof.
Felons need a dash-cam much more so than regular drivers, because if you get wrongly accused, you will be “guilty by default” without video evidence. Definitely stay away from cams under $100 … This video footage may be a deciding factor in your life, so spend $200-300 on a great cam to be sure that you have the evidence when/if you need it!
You need a dash cam that films in front of your car as well as inside (with secondary rear view camera) the car. Don’t buy cheap cams – they are garbage, and often will not make a recording, that you need (even if they appear to be working). I made a mistake of getting a cheap dash camera, and when I needed it, there were no videos, while the camera was rolling 🙁
You need a smart phone to install the ride sharing app, so you can drive customers. Everything happens through this app, so I recommend a decent Android phone or an iPhone 5s or newer. Your phone will also be your navigation!
Along with a phone you will need a decent car-mount to place it on. Here, I recommend a magnetic mount like Schoshe, which makes it very easy to take the phone off and put it back on with one hand, in less than 1/2 second! Don’t get operated mounts, as they are a driving hazard.
As for the phone itself, it’s very personal, and depends on you provider (AT&T / Sprint / T-Mobile / Verizon / Prepaid). With Sprint / Verizon, you pretty much can only use carrier phones (no unlocked options). For AT&T / T-Mobile, I recommend an unlocked phone, like Blu Life One X2 or Blu R1HD or Sony XA or Unlocked iPhone 5s or newer.
Moreover, an unlocked phone gives you the freedom to change carriers, and you won’t get stuck in a two year contract.
How to behave with passengers
Never ask for tips! While Lyft allows tipping, you should never ask for tips. First, most people will leave tips anyway through the app. Second, if they did not leave a tip – that is fine – many people are just cheap. However, if you ask for it or complain, you WILL get bad review. Once again – just a handful of bad reviews and you are off the job forever!
Don’t tell them that you are a felon! Ok, so I am all for transparency, but if you want to make someone very scared of you – tell them you have a conviction, while you drive them … J/K … never do that.
NO ROAD RAGE If you drive aggressively, you will most likely be fired the first day! All ride sharing service companies are very strict about safety. One or two complains about dangerous driving is enough to get you deactivated! There is no going back, once you are out.
Don’t make awkward conversations with riders. Many people don’t like talking with strangers – just drive them and that’s it… unless you get a talkative type. Then just keep a casual conversation going without being too personal.
Be on time Many people are in a hurry, and use ride sharing for fast inexpensive transportation. Don’t come 15 minutes late for your pickup. If you want to eat lunch – turn off the app and you will not get any ride requests at that time.
Don’t smoke in the car Riders often think of themselves as hip and cool, and today smoking is NOT considered cool. So definitely don’t smoke in the car with the rider in it, but also don’t smoke in the car when alone. I do smoke, but I hate the smell of cigarettes. So when I need to, I just pull over, and get out.
Here is a good “training video” if you are considering getting int this line of work:
Once you are setup and ready to start driving
Ok, assuming you get the job and set everything up with you car, phone, app, camera, etc, – you first ride should be during off-peak day hours… like between 11am and 3pm. Pick up and drive a few clients, and be EXTRA nice and polite. Ask your riders how their day goes, offer water, etc.
Mention that you are new and that this is your first day, and ask – would they care to give you some tips (as in ADVICE). This will open up the conversation and make time go by fast. This will also make your passenger have positive emotions about you – increasing your chances of getting tips and good reviews.
Additionally, in the beginning, you should also have your friends ride with you (through the app) and give you initial positive ratings.
Lastly, you may find yourself strapped for cash, and having to pay for car repairs, gas, incidentals, etc. In this case, consider applying for a bad credit credit card (chances are you have poor credit:)) and paying for what you need this way. Just be careful not to run up a huge balance that you will not be able to pay back, which will further ruin your credit.
Ok – this should about cover it for now – if you want more advice – hit some Lyft / Uber forums – they are a good place to start.
If you do not qualify (felonies that are less than 7 years old), you should still try to apply, unless 7 years is coming up soon. Also, check out our trucking jobs guide, as truck companies can be much more lenient with hiring felons.
Let us know in comments below if you were able to get a driver job with a felony.
UPDATE ON UBER: As of 2018, Uber began doing repeat criminal background checks on all existing drivers, through a new service called Checkr. Here are types of convictions that will prevent felons from getting a driving gig at Uber:
“Driver candidates cannot have a conviction for a felony, violent crime or sexual offenses, or a registration on the US Department of Justice National Sex Offender public website”.
Therefore, if you have a misdemeanor conviction, you will most likely be ok. However, there have been many cases where people with past misdemeanors have lost their jobs after a repeat background check.