TEMPE, Ariz. - According to records from the Arizona Department of Corrections, the safety driver sitting in the front seat of a self-driving Uber in Tempe at the time of a fatal pedestrian crash is a convicted felon.
The driver, 44-year-old Rafaela Vasquez, served several years in prison under the name Rafael Vasquez. She was charged with unsworn falsification and attempt to commit armed robbery. She was released from prison in 2005.
According to Uber's website, part of the company's mission is criminal justice reform and offering those with criminal records a second chance. That policy came under fire last November when Uber was fined nearly $9 million in Colorado. The Colorado Public Utilities Commission issued a notice saying dozens of Uber drivers shouldn't have passed a background check.
Arizona state law allows for convicted felons to work for ride-sharing companies as long as they meet specific requirements. That includes not being convicted of a violent crime for seven years and not being a registered sex offender.
An Uber spokesperson told 12 News Vasquez went through the company's screening process and met all requirements.