UberX Driver Involved in New Year's Eve Manslaughter Had a Record of Reckless Driving

By Elyce Kirchner, David Paredes and Scott Pham
|  Friday, Jan 17, 2014  |  Updated 2:16 PM PDT
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UberX Driver in Fatal Crash Had Record

Monroe County Sherrif's Office

Syed Muzaffar is seen in this 2004 Monroe County Sheriff's Office booking photo.

The UberX driver arrested for the vehicular manslaughter of a 6-year-old girl this New Year's Eve was convicted of reckless driving almost 10 years ago in Florida.

Arrest records from Florida show that Syed Muzaffar was driving in excess of 100 mph on the Overseas Highway in Key West. According to the arrest record, Muzaffar improperly passed vehicles into oncoming traffic, causing a vehicle to pull off the road in order to avoid a head-on collision. The report also shows Muzaffar’s wife and children were in the car.

Muzaffar, 57, of Union City, was arrested earlier this month, following the death of 6-year-old Sophia Liu. Police say Liu and her mother and brother were on the crosswalk at Polk and Ellis streets when they were struck. Muzaffar was a driver with UberX, a lower-priced version of Uber that uses mid-range cars instead of Town Cars.

Uber's Public Policy representative Andrew Noyes suggested that Muzaffar's arrest record was not required to be reported in a background check. In a written statement, he said, "Uber works with Hirease to conduct stringent background checks going back seven years, which all drivers must undergo and clear to partner with Uber. This driver had a clean background check when he became an Uber partner."

California law restricts Consumer Reporting Agencies like Hirease from reporting "records of arrest, indictment, information, misdemeanor complaint, or conviction of a crime" more than seven years old.

Uber maintained that their background checks are "stricter and safer than SFMTA's." But a spokesperson for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency told the Investigative Unit that for SFMTA, "Background checks go back for the entire adult life. There is no limit."

Muzaffar's lawyer sent this written statement: "Mr. Muzaffar is a husband and father of four. He and his family send their condolences to the Liu family. The incident in 2004 has no relation to the accident in San Francisco on New Year’s eve. In the decade between that incident and this tragic accident, Mr. Muzaffar has a clean driving record with no moving violations."

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