Broward County Commissioners have agreed to propose new measures for ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft that would require more thorough background checks for potential drivers, as well as more stringent inspections for vehicles. Commissioners also want to have drivers fingerprinted.
The County Attorney's Office will prepare the requirements into an ordinance for a public hearing and commission approval
The county had been limited to statewide criminal checks every two years, but the latest agreement would require local, state and national criminal records of anyone applying to an Uber or Lyft driver.
Included in the measure would be for the county commissioners have have a checklist of specific requirements that each car used by Uber or Lyft would have to meet, including mechanical inspections as well as the body of the car.
Uber's concern remains having to adhere to individual county requirements before being allowed to operate legally. A bill proposed by Matt Gaetz, along with a Senate bill filed by Sen. Jeff Brandes, propose statewide requirements for Uber and Lyft, including background checks. Gaetz's bill would also have drivers with a DUI conviction within the past seven years to be banned from driving for these and any other Transportation Network Companies.
The requirements in Gaetz's bill are very similar to Uber's own background check requirements, though it does not include fingerprinting.
Gaetz's bill, however, also requires Uber and Lyft to pay an annual $5,000 permit fee, and to disclose their insurance info on their websites.
Back in December, Broward County sent Uber and Lyft a letter ordering them to comply with county driver and chauffeur laws, such as having their drivers obtain chauffeur licenses, permits, and decals. There are also requirements for a separate set of decals to be allowed to transport customers to and from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport as well as Port Everglades.
On the same day Broward issued its letter, Uber announced on its blog that it is expanding across Florida. While the county has fined Uber for not complying with their letter, the two sides have constantly said they'd work together to find a resolution. Still, the county has issued fines to Uber drivers. The company has said it would pick up the tab for any of their drivers that get fined.
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"Targeting driver partners for simply providing safe, reliable rides to the community and contributing to the economy is counterproductive," Kasra Moshkani, general manager for Uber in South Florida, said to New Times. "We stand by our partners, will cover the costs related to unjust citations, and will continue to deliver access to the choice and opportunity the people of Broward County deserve."
Uber has had to jump over multiple hurdles to set up shop in South Florida, first by way of a petition to get the Florida Legislature to approve a bill to allow it to operate, which failed. But Uber touched down in Miami and soon after spread into Broward County.
Uber has spread in popularity nationwide and recently secured $1.2 billion in funding. People looking for a ride simply download an app and pay a fixed fee. No money is exchanged between rider and driver, and there's no dispatcher, as with conventional taxi or limousine services.
The new requirements proposed by the commissioners need to be approved by public hearing before a final vote.