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Can you be an Uber driver in Minnesota if you're a felon?

They can't drive immediately after getting out of prison.

What's happening?

Uber is in the news after one of its autonomous cars killed a pedestrian in Arizona this week.

On Wednesday, USA Today is reporting that the Uber employee who was in the car at the time of the crash has a felony record.

To be clear, that safety driver wasn't operating that Uber, rather, he was merely in the self-driving vehicle as a backup, per Uber's regulations. 

But while this driver is not thought to bear any responsibility for the fatal collision, it has nonetheless – and some say unfairly – sparked a debate about Uber's hiring practices.

Uber's policy to hire convicted felons under certain, strict circumstances states: "Everybody deserves a fair chance."

So how does it work in Minnesota?

Convicted felons are allowed to work as Uber drivers in Minnesota as long as they can prove that they've been out of trouble for a specific period of time. 

Uber Media Relations specialist Kayle Whaling tells BMTN that all interested contract drivers go through a screening process, which is conducted by an accredited third party company (Checkr). 

Both criminal records and driving history are examined, and if an applicant has any red flags within the past seven years they are disqualified. The background check first looks into driving history and then very specific details regarding criminal history: 

"Individuals who pass the driving history screen then undergo a national, state, and local-level criminal history check that screens a series of national, state, and local databases including the US Department of Justice National Sex Offender Public Website,* the PACER database, and several different databases used to identify suspected terrorists."

But if a convicted felon has been clean for 7-plus years, they're clear for contract employment as an Uber driver.

Uber has been testing self-driving vehicles in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Toronto and the greater Phoenix area, not in Minneapolis. Those test, however, has since been put on hold. 

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