California Bill Wants All Uber, Lyft Drivers to Undergo Drug Testing

By McCarton Ackerman 03/09/15

California would be the first state to make such testing a legal requirement.

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California has introduced a bill that would require all Uber and Lyft drivers to undergo drug testing, which could make it the first state to formally mandate such an action.

The bill created by state Assemblyman Adrian Nazarian also wants fingerprint-based background checks for all ride-share app drivers and an institution of “pull notices” to alert the companies when a driver has been arrested for a DUI or a serious conviction. He hopes to avoid a criminal using the ID of a younger brother with a clean record to apply to become an Uber driver, which fingerprinting would prevent.

“Rideshare companies, such as Uber and Lyft that claim to be focused on consumer safety, should welcome and embrace the opportunity to show consumers how safe and friendly their drivers can be, while providing an affordable and technology-driven transportation service,” said Nazarian. “Who would be against making sure your driver is not a convicted felon or a reckless driver?”

The district attorneys of Los Angeles and San Francisco filed a lawsuit last year over Uber allegedly not fingerprinting prospective drivers. Lyft settled their suit, but Uber continues to fight theirs.

Last September, Chicago began implementing “common sense” drug testing on Uber drivers. Southside Alderman Roderick Sawyer formally forbid ride-sharing companies throughout Chicago from hiring a driver that has not passed a drug test administered by a company authorized by city hall. He stated that he simply wanted “to make sure our constituents our safe and have a safe ride.”

All drivers would need to drug tested annually. A positive test would result in being prohibited from operating a ride-sharing vehicle for at least one year. They would also need to pass a drug test before being rehired. Any company who hired a driver who tested positive or didn’t follow the protocol would face daily fines of $500-$1,000. However, the mandate has a two-tiered system, which will prevent part-time drivers from having to be tested annually.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.