California seeking to fine Uber $1.1 million over drunk drivers
April 17, 2017
California’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has filed an order seeking to fine Uber $1.13 million for failing to properly respond to suspected drunk drivers. [Market Watch]
From Aug. 2014 to Aug. 2015, Uber reported receiving 2,047 complaints from California passengers about suspected drunk drivers. Uber barred 574 of the drivers.
However, state regulators reviewed 154 complaints about Uber drivers who allegedly drove drunk during that period. Uber did not promptly suspend or investigate 151 of the 154 drivers.
Regulators are seeking a $7,500 fine for each of the 151 violations found by the PUC’s Consumer Protection and Enforcement Division.
“In many instances, CPED found no evidence that [Uber] followed up in any way with zero tolerance complaints several hours or even one fully day after passengers filed such complaints,” the PUC order states.
In a recent statement, Uber said the complaints were a couple years old, and the company has improved since then.
“We have zero tolerance for any impaired driving as outlined in our community guidelines,” an Uber spokesman said. “This report relates to complaints in 2014 and 2015 and we’ve significantly improved our process since then.”
Unlike taxi and limousine drivers in California, drivers for ride-hauling services like Uber and Lyft do not need to be tested for alcohol and drugs. However, Uber and Lyft must comply with a zero-tolerance policy, under which the companies are required to promptly suspend and investigate drivers accused of driving under the influence.
Uber has been known to clash with regulators around the world, and the company has previously run afoul of California’s PUC. Last year, the state shut down Uber’s unlicensed testing of self-driving cars. Then last month, Uber applied for a permit to test self-driving cars and state regulators gave their approval.