A new bill would prohibit low-level sex offenders from driving for Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing companies.
Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Sue Serino of Hyde Park, Dutchess County, are pushing the measure to tweak the state’s newly approved ride-hailing law, which takes effect in early July.
That law, approved in the state budget earlier this month, prohibits all Level 2 and 3 sex offenders from driving for ride-hailing companies, but allows certain Level 1 offenders to participate seven years after their crime.
The new bill from GOP lawmakers would change that, blocking Level 1 offenders from driving for the companies for as long as they are deemed a sex offender — generally a period of 20 years.
“Our community is home to a high concentration of colleges, and our college students will undoubtedly utilize the service regularly, so I shudder to think that any registered sex offender — of any level — could get behind the wheel of an Uber or Lyft vehicle,” Serino said in a statement.
A spokeswoman for Uber declined comment on the bill.
A judge determines a sex-offender’s level based on a variety of criteria, including the age of a potential victim and whether they used any force.
Level 1 is the lowest level in the state’s sex-offender registry and is reserved for those deemed to have a low risk of committing a future sex crime.
The names of Level 1 offenders aren’t included in the state’s public registry, but are known to the state.
The state’s ride-hailing law requires ride-hailing companies to perform background checks on its drivers, including a criminal-history check. The law lays out a variety of crimes that are disqualifying for drivers.
The Upstate Transportation Association, a coalition of groups including upstate taxi companies, had pushed for tougher background checks that would have required drivers to be finger-printed.
“If they want to ensure that sex offenders never drive an Uber in New York, fingerprinting is the best way to do it,” John Tomassi, the association’s president, said in a statement.
The bill would require passage by the Republican-led Senate and Democrat-led Assembly and support from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
So far, it hasn’t picked up a sponsor from the Assembly’s Democratic majority.