New Scandal: Drunken Uber Drivers

Just when you thought it was safe to hail a ride, there’s a new Uber scandal. California’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) fined the company $1.13 million for not investigating and suspending drivers accused of being drunk on duty.

The PUC requires ride-hailing apps to have a zero tolerance policy for driving under the influence. It also requires companies to promptly investigate complaints of drunk or high drivers and suspend them.

Yet the commission report stated that officials had “found no evidence that (Uber) followed up in any way with zero-tolerance complaints several hours or even one full day after passengers filed such complaints,” The San Francisco Chronicle reported. When PUC employees examined 154 driving under the influence (DUI) complaints at Uber they found 151 had not been investigated.

To make matters worse Uber’s system for dealing with DUI complaints was cumbersome and ineffective. There was no way to flag complaints or review or categorize them in Uber’s software.

“Of the 154 complaints CPED reviewed, Rasier provided evidence for just 22 instances when it suspended the driver within one hour of when a passenger filed a complaint,” PUC order states. Rasier is apparently the name that Uber operates under in California. “Even within those 22 complaints, Rasier’s records appear to contradict that Rasier did indeed suspend drivers prior to initiating an investigation.”

Uber Not Investigating DUI

If that was not bad enough Uber’s method of DUI investigation is to ask drivers if they were drunk or for passengers to provide evidence of drunkenness, The Chronicle reported. Evidence might consist of video of drunk driving, a driver admitting he or she was drinking, a DUI conviction or a blood alcohol test administered by law enforcement.

The fine was issued because the complaints are two years old yet Uber had failed to deal with them. Instead it merely has a rule that states a driver caught drunk or drinking will be deactivated. Despite that the PUC discovered at least 25 instances of Uber drivers with three or more complaints of drinking who were not suspended.

Uber can either comply with the order or appeal the Commission’s ruling to an administrative law judge. The Chronicle did not say what the company plans to do.

It looks as if there are more problems at Uber than we thought. One has to wonder how this company can keep its $70 billion valuation with news like this floating around.

This might lead to some big new lawsuits against Uber if drunken drivers were using it in other states. Particularly if anybody was hurt in an accident by such a driver.


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