Uber has been operating in Charlotte, Asheville and several other major cities in North Carolina for several years now, asserting that their service helps lower the number of drunk drivers on the road. Some who use the service say it gives them a safe, affordable way to get home after a night of drinking.
However, regulators in California are now saying the company isn’t doing enough to make sure people who drive drunk aren’t on payroll. In fact, a $1.3 million fine has been proposed that would penalize the ride-share giant for not using due care in investigating or suspending drivers who are drunk. An order filed by the state public utilities commission, which regulates ridesharing services in that state, outlines how in 64 cases, drivers continued giving rides for at least an hour after a passenger reported the driver was drunk or impaired.
The state mandates all ridesharing companies adopt a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to drivers who operate vehicles under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The policy has to be posted online and in their apps, giving riders a way to report a driver and/ or make complaints. The companies must have a way to quickly suspend drivers to further investigate the claims after a complaint is filed.
However in these 64 cases, regulators could find no evidence that the rideshare service followed up in any way with these drivers in accordance with the zero tolerance complaints made. In many cases, several hours passed before an investigation was launched. Sometimes, nothing was initiated for at least a full day.
Uber received nearly 2,050 complaints about allegedly drunken drivers in California from the summer of 2014 to the summer of 2015. Of those, the company ended up “deactivating” nearly 575 of them, meaning it blocked those drivers from continuing to work for the service.
Of those 2,050 complaints, officials in California reviewed 154 of them. Of those, the reviewers concluded the company failed to investigate and/ or suspend 151 instances. For this, regulators say the company should be forced to spend $7,500 for each violation, which in total works out to $1.3 million.
The company will have the option to contest the fine in an administrative law judge hearing.
Executives with the company say they are in receipt of the order and are reviewing its contents and their legal options. Some of the issues, a spokeswoman for the company said, deal with record-keeping issues that were resolved years ago. The updated system allows the company to immediately suspend a driver, the company said.
While regulators say the company’s system is cumbersome, it doesn’t provide any way for companies to flag complaints as DUI allegations. Instead, every single complaint has to be categorized and reviewed, a process that is not only time-consuming, it also leaves it open to numerous opportunities for human error.
Further, the regulators say the company’s standards for confirmation of drunk driving are flawed because there is a reliance on the driver actually admitting to being impaired, as well as to rider videos or a law enforcement-administered blood-alcohol test. The first two methods are not accurate or realistic means of documenting driver impairment, regulators say.
Our Charlotte drunk driving injury lawyers know that if you are injured in an Uber accident with a driver who was drunk, you may have several legal options worth pursuing. Contact an attorney to help you weigh your next move.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
California tells Uber it’s sloppy about ditching drunken drivers, April 13, 2017, By Carolyn Said, SFGate.com
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