Charlie Baker defends results of state’s background checks for Uber and Lyft drivers

"No one lost their job over a parking ticket."

Massachusetts Republican Gov. Charlie Baker addresses a join session of the Mass. Legislature during his State of the State address in the House chamber at the Statehouse, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017, in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Gov. Charlie Baker. –Steven Senne / AP

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Gov. Charlier Baker is standing by the results of the state’s recent background checks on drivers employed by ride-hailing companies, such as Uber and Lyft.

In an interview Thursday on WGBH’s Boston Public Radio, the Massachusetts governor dismissed criticisms that said the checks banned drivers for minor infractions and left many with limited recourse for getting their jobs back.

“No one lost their job over a speeding ticket from 20 years ago,” Baker said. “No one lost their job over a parking ticket. No one lost their job over a lot of the things that we’ve been accused of having lost their jobs over.”

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Following a negotiated deal between companies and the state, 8,206 of the Bay State’s 70,789 ride-hailing drivers lost their jobs upon a government review of their criminal and driving records. According to Baker, that included “hundreds” of drivers without valid driver’s licenses or with serious felony convictions.

“There were many who had other major crimes that I don’t think anybody would want their son or daughter getting in the car to have somebody drive,” he said Thursday.

Massachusetts is the first state in the country to implement comprehensive background checks for ride-hailing companies. The Boston Globe has published the full statistics on the drivers rejected here.

As Globe columnist Shirley Leung wrote Wednesday, drivers who feel they were unfairly rejected can appeal their ban. And of the 1,400 drivers who had appealed, 444 were able to successfully overturn the decision. Baker said Thursday that appeals were being processed in seven to 10 days.

However, there are 18 “disqualifying” violations — from serious crimes, such as assault or OUI, to more minor offenses, like a driver’s license suspension or recent repeated traffic violations — that cannot be overturned on appeal.

Uber has criticized the state review’s look-back period — which is unlimited for more serious crimes, as well as multiple serious driving offenses — as “unfair and unjust.”

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