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Driving for a rideshare service such as Lyft has become increasingly popular as more people work to supplement their income or find a more flexible primary income source. The ads on social media show driving as a lucrative and simple way to earn money, and all you need is a clean, reliable car and a driver’s license. However, the reality is not cut and dried.

How Lyft works

The second-largest rideshare program, Lyft, launched in 2012 and has steadily grown. Using the same premise as Uber, Lyft provides an app where you can request a ride and, in some cities, find car rentals, bike and scooter rentals, and transit schedules. There are around 12 million active riders and 1 to 2 million drivers in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico.

How do you become a driver?

With a ratio of around 12:1 riders to drivers, there’s plenty of room for more drivers. So how can you start working for Lyft?

First, you need a car. But it must follow specific requirements. According to Lyft, your vehicle must have four doors and at least five seatbelts but no more than eight. Lyft doesn’t allow taxis, limousines, and certain subcompact vehicles, and your state might have more specific requirements. And if you don’t own a car or your vehicle doesn’t meet the criteria, Lyft’s Express Drive program allows you to rent a car.

You also have to be at least 21 years old, and in some states as old as 25. Several states also require at least one year of driving experience, which means high schoolers looking to earn money need not apply.

And, of course, you must have a current and valid driver’s license, a valid plate with up-to-date registration, and auto insurance under your name. After you complete your application, Lyft will perform a background check and a DMV check. Then you’ll have to complete a Community Safety Education program.

What would disqualify you from becoming a Lyft driver?

Besides your age and car, some other things could disqualify you from becoming a driver for Lyft. For example, if you have been convicted of a violent crime — such as homicide, kidnapping, or carjacking — you will not qualify as a driver. Additionally, if you are on the National Sex Offender registry or have been convicted of a sexual offense, such as rape, you are automatically disqualified. And if you have a DUI, typically, you’re eligible to be a Lyft driver after seven years, but this varies based on region. 

Your driving history could also disqualify you. Besides a DUI, if you have been convicted of a serious driving-related crime, such as a hit-and-run, you are ineligible for seven years, depending upon your region. But felonies and DUIs are not the only things that could prevent you from driving for Lyft. For example, if you have four or more driving violations (such as running a red light) or a single major driving violation (like driving on a suspended license) in the past three years, you might be ineligible.

As travel opens post-pandemic, people are increasingly using rideshare services. So if you’re looking for a way to earn extra income, driving for a rideshare service like Lyft can be a good idea.


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