The “gig economy” is sweeping the nation, and it's a good way for many people to pick up side jobs, set their own schedules, and maximize flexibility. With the rise in popularity of rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft, many people turn to driving others to supplement their income. Unfortunately, if you have a criminal record, a past conviction can prevent you from working for many of these companies.
Uber and Lyft both want to ensure the safety of their customers and require background checks for all of their contractors. Both Uber and Lyft use a third-party company called Checkr, Inc. for their background checks. Checkr consults public records, including the Federal Criminal Records database, the National Sex Offender Registry, and local and state courthouse records.
Criminal Background Check Requirements
- Aggravated assault
- Human trafficking
- Rape, sexual assault, or child pornography
- Drug-related offenses in the past seven years
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in the past seven years
- Property damage in the last seven years
In limited circumstances, you may be able to expunge or seal some of these offenses in Pennsylvania. In many cases, juvenile offenses aren't part of your criminal record and won't prevent a rideshare company from hiring you unless you were over a certain age and adjudicated delinquent in a violent crime.
In addition to your criminal record, rideshare companies will check your driving record as well. Uber or Lyft may deny you employment if you have any of the following within the last three years:
- More than three minor moving violations such as speeding or running a stop sign
- One major moving violation, such as reckless driving or driving with a suspended license
However, for more serious driving violations, any conviction in the last seven years may prevent you from driving for a rideshare company. These serious violations include:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- A serious driving-related conviction like a hit-and-run or another felony involving a vehicle
Unfortunately, under Pennsylvania law, you can't expunge a driving record even if you're able to expunge or seal the underlying traffic summary offense. Any points or license suspensions on your Pennsylvania driving record will remain there except in very limited circumstances. For example, if you have a suspension related to underage drinking, you served the sentence, and you've since turned 21, you may be able to have the suspension notation removed from your driving record. See 18 Pa.C.S.A. §6308. However, any violation occurring more than three or seven years ago, depending on the violation, shouldn't prevent you from working for a rideshare company.
As you can see, a criminal record can prevent you from working for a rideshare company like Uber or Lyft in many cases. Fortunately, Pennsylvania law allows some people to expunge their criminal records, giving them a second chance. An expungement is a court order requiring the destruction of administrative or court records related to your arrest, charge, or criminal conviction in Pennsylvania. If you don't meet the criteria for expunging criminal records, you may be able to seal them instead.
Can Expungement Help Rideshare Drivers in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania has three levels of crimes, including summary offenses, misdemeanors, and felonies. Summary offenses are low-level criminal violations typically punishable by a fine rather than jail time. The maximum penalty for a summary offense is 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,500, although most summary offense convictions will result in a fine rather than jail time. Misdemeanor convictions can result in jail time, and fines and felonies are the most serious criminal violations, with serious jail time and fines possible after a conviction.
Under Pennsylvania law, you can expunge criminal convictions in limited circumstances. You can expunge:
- A summary offense conviction if you remain free from arrest or prosecution for five years
- Crimes where the police charged you, but you weren't convicted. These “non-convictions” include nolle prose dispositions, not guilty verdicts, dismissed charges, and dropped charges.
Unfortunately, you can only expunge misdemeanor or felony convictions in Pennsylvania in limited situations, meaning you can't typically expunge the above-listed crimes that can automatically disqualify you from a rideshare position during your background check. However, you may be eligible to seal your record instead. To determine whether expungement may work for you, you should talk to an experienced Pennsylvania expungement attorney.
Sealing Criminal Records in Pennsylvania
You can't expunge most of the list of crimes that automatically disqualify you from working for a rideshare company, including homicide, aggravated assault, sexual assault, kidnapping, and terrorism. However, you may be able to seal some non-violent convictions, including drug-related offenses, under Pennsylvania's Act 5 of 2016. Sealing a record is different from expungement because it doesn't destroy your existing records. Instead, sealing your records simply removes them from public view.
You can seal records under Pennsylvania law if:
- You only have a second-degree or third-degree misdemeanor conviction on your record
- You weren't arrested in the last ten years
- You weren't convicted of a felony, a first-degree misdemeanor, or a second-degree misdemeanor simple assault
- You've completed your sentence, including paying all of your court costs and fines
- You have fewer than four misdemeanor convictions
Under the Clean Slate Act of 2018, Pennsylvania law allows the state to seal some criminal records automatically. The state will now automatically seal your records for:
- Charges where a court found you not guilty
- An arrest that didn't end in a conviction
- Non-violent criminal convictions after ten years
- Misdemeanor offenses involving fewer than two years in prison
Sealing is a good option to remove your criminal record and arrests from public view. Most routine background checks, such as those completed by landlords or potential employers, won't reveal sealed records, and you aren't legally required to disclose them. However, employers using criminal FBI background checks will still have access to these records. That means that a rideshare company like Uber or Lyft may still see sealed records from the FBI National Criminal Database.
Hire an Experienced Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney
Pennsylvania law concerning expungement and sealing of criminal records is nuanced and can be challenging to parse on your own. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team at the Lento Law Firm have been helping Pennsylvanians with expungement for years. Find out if an expungement or record sealing can help you. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888.535.3686 to schedule a consultation or contact them online today.