Capitol Alert

Fingerprinting not required for Uber and Lyft drivers in California

A driver displaying Lyft and Uber stickers on his front windshield drops off a customer in downtown Los Angeles.
A driver displaying Lyft and Uber stickers on his front windshield drops off a customer in downtown Los Angeles. The Associated Press

Despite a push by the taxi industry, California will not require Uber and Lyft to fingerprint their drivers.

The California Public Utilities Commission is set to adopt new rules on background checks for ride-hailing services during its meeting, 9:30 a.m. in San Francisco. The proposed regulations, which were released last month, mandate companies conduct annual screenings of their drivers with firms that are accredited by a national association.

But the biggest point of contention was whether those background checks would need to include a biometric component, such as fingerprinting. Taxi drivers, who are generally required to undergo fingerprint checks, lobbied heavily for their competition to be held to the same standard, while Uber and Lyft fiercely resisted, arguing that it would be onerous and discriminatory against minorities.

After a yearlong review, the commission ultimately sided with the ride-hailing services that the requirement was unnecessary.

“Although we recognize the public’s familiarity with fingerprinting, we do not see that a demonstratively greater level of safety would be added over and above the current background-check protocols,” Commissioner Liane Randolph wrote.

In 2016, the Legislature passed a law prohibiting the companies from hiring drivers who are registered sex offenders or have been convicted of a violent felony or certain crimes, such as assault, domestic violence or driving under the influence, in the past seven years.

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Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff