A scary loophole means a registered sex offender could be driving you around the Hudson Valley.

Ride services Uber and Lyft recently received approval to begin operating across New York State. While the new law included a requirement for background checks on prospective drivers, a loophole allows Level 1 sex offenders to drive for the companies.

“Approving ride-hailing for the rest of the state was long overdue, but public safety must always remain our number one priority,” Senator Sue Serino said. “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. Closing this loophole requires immediate action on the part of both houses and the Governor.”

Senator Serino, who represents parts of the Hudson Valley, teamed up with Senator Tom Croci to introduce legislation to close the dangerous loophole and better protect riders in the Hudson Valley and across the state.

“Allowing anyone who appears on the New York State Sex Offender Registry to be drivers for rides-hare companies presents an unacceptable risk to our citizens,” Senator Croci said. “It also trivializes the seriousness of these crimes and undermines public confidence in these new services. Our legislation will correct the dangerous error in the original law.”

The new law that was passed as part of the State Budget will require people seeking to drive for companies like Uber and Lyft to obtain a Transportation Network Company (TNC) driver permit. Individuals on on the U.S. Department of Justice National Sex Offender Public Website are prohibited from receiving the permit. However, the database only contains the names of Levels 2 and 3 sex offenders in New York, officials say.

Level 1 sex offenders are considered to have the lowest risk of a repeat offense.

Level 1 Sex offenders who have been convicted of a sex offense in the last seven years aren’t allowed to obtain a permit to driver for Uber of Lyft. However, due to their continued risk to their communities, Level 1 sex offenders are required to register with law enforcement for a 20 years.

The bill by Senator Croci and Senator Serino hopes to correct to a loophole by making sure a registered sex offender can’t drive for Uber of Lyft during the time period that they are required to register as a sex offender.

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