Uber Faces DUI Fines

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Uber often cites statistics indicating that the incidences of DUI have fallen in areas where the ride-sharing service operates. The company has partnered with Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to offer free rides on holidays like New Year’s Eve and St. Patrick’s Day when celebrations usually include alcohol consumption. The problem now, however, is to what extent are Uber drivers themselves illegally intoxicated. The Californiaís Public Utilities Commission has recommended a $1.13 million fine, $7,500 for each of 151 incidences, be levied on ridesharing service Uber in the state of California, for failing to immediately suspend Uber drivers accused by California passengers of driving while intoxicated.

California’s Zero-Tolerance for Taxi Driver Dui Complaints

Failing to take action to suspend those driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol has been the subject of approximately 2000 complaints made by Uber passengers against Uber drivers. Once a passenger has complained to Uber, a functionality of the Uber app, Uber addresses the problem but has terminated only about one-quarter of the accused drivers, and none were immediately suspended. Uber’s policy is to suspend drivers accused of “multiple unconfirmed incidences” of driving under the influence. The state of California has a “zero-tolerance” policy on driving under the influence for Taxi and ride sharing services. California law requires that taxi and ride-hailing services immediately suspend and investigate any instance of drunk or drugged driving alleged by a passenger.

Uber’s Driver Background Policy
Currently Uber requires all drivers undergo a general background check that includes one’s driving record. Prospective Uber drivers need to have a clean motor vehicle record and no more than 3 violations in the last three years. Nationally, an Uber driver can not have received a DUI or been convicted of reckless driving for three years, however, in California Uber drivers can not have been convicted of DUI within the previous 10 years. The company also screens applicants that have committed felonies or misdemeanors involving theft, violence or drugs and those convicted of speeding within the last three years.

Reporting Uber Drivers
Uber’s internal company policy on reporting driver violations has also come into question. Currently, the company has an in-app function that allows for consumer complaints however the app does not differentiate drunk or drugged driving complaints from other complaints. Drunk driving accusations have to be dealt with by hand individually and that takes days to process making immediate suspension impossible. In the state of California and other states with zero-tolerance DUI/Taxi laws, it may be advisable to update the app to include drunk or drugged driving selections and instant suspensions for accused drivers.

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Guest Contributor