Uber and Lyft are battling cities over fingerprinting drivers, saying it does nothing to improve safety and is an unnecessary burden — however, new data that came out Tuesday from Austin, Texas, a city both services quit over the issue, might undermine their case.
Austin's new fingerprint-based background checks, which went partially into effect on Aug. 1, barred 86 people with criminal records from driving for ride-hailing services, according to the Austin Transportation Department. Disqualifying offenses may include violent crimes, drug dealing, DUI, prostitution, fraud, resisting arrest, reckless driving, arson and theft.
There is no way of knowing if Uber and Lyft's own background checks — administered by Checkr and Sterling Backcheck — would have flagged these individuals. Uber and Lyft have said that the laws governing traditional taxi and limousine drivers should not be applied to their drivers, many of whom work part time.
Both Uber and Lyft closed up their Austin businesses in May when the city voted to require drivers to be fingerprinted. Both companies are fighting similar regulatory demands in cities such as Houston and Chicago.