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Uber and Lyft drivers could soon face tougher background checks, thanks to bill headed to Gov. Jerry Brown

 (Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg)
(Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg)

Drivers for Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing services could soon face stricter background checks under a measure that passed the California Legislature on Wednesday.

The bill would prohibit the companies from hiring drivers who are registered sex offenders, have been convicted of violent felonies or, within the last seven years, have a driving-under-the-influence conviction.  

The bill's author, Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove), said the measure “will help ensure the safety of passengers utilizing [ride-hailing] services." He noted that prosecutors in Los Angeles and San Francisco last year found 25 people with lengthy criminal histories driving for Uber.

But Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) argued that the measure is too strict and hurts the ability of those with long-ago convictions to find jobs.

“The language in the bill doesn’t take into consideration individuals who committed crimes 10, 15 or 20 years ago, have paid their debt to society and are now model citizens,” Quirk said.

The bill also mandates a maximum $5,000 fine each time a ride-hailing company violates the background-check rules. The measure now heads to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

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