California Says Uber Is Too Slow In Ditching Drunk Drivers

Photo: AP
Photo: AP

California has a rule that requires ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft to have a “zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence,” according to the San Francisco Gateand regulators say Uber isn’t upholding it.

The Gate reports that regulators want to fine Uber $1.13 million for “failing to investigate and/or suspend drunk drivers,” after they discovered 64 instances where “drivers gave rides within an hour after a passenger reported that they were intoxicated.” From the Gate:

The state requires ride-hailing companies to have a zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence. The companies must post that policy in their apps and online, provide a way for riders and others to make complaints and promptly suspend drivers for further investigation after a complaint.

Regulators “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 order said.

Uber received 2,047 complaints about drunk drivers in California from August 2014 to August 2015. It “deactivated” 574 of them, meaning it barred them from working.


Still, regulators said they found in a partial review of 154 complaints that Uber failed to suspend or investigate drivers in nearly all of them, the Gate reported. At $7,500 per violation, the total adds up to more than $1.13 million.

Uber can contest the proposed fine in a hearing before an administrative law judge. The order asks the full commission to determine if Uber indeed violated the zero-tolerance rule, as the PUC investigators found.

Uber said it’s received the order and is assessing its options.

After background checks in Massachusetts revealed potential flaws in the systems deployed by Uber and its rival Lyft, this... isn’t that good of a look. Uber told the Gate it’s reviewing the order and assessing potential next steps.

Update: An Uber spokesperson sent along the following statement to Jalopnik:

We have zero tolerance for any impaired driving as outlined in our Community Guidelines. This report relates to complaints in 2014 and 2015 and we’ve significantly improved our processes since then.


Senior Reporter, Jalopnik/Special Projects Desk

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So the drivers weren’t actually cited for DUI by the state, but the state wants Uber to stop these possibly intoxicated drivers from further driving in under an hour? I suppose that is possible but shouldn’t there be some sort of false accusation charge associated with that if it’s untrue?

Umm...shouldn’t that be something the police already do in the normal course of their shift? Person calls 911 to report suspected drunk driver and police go investigate whether that is true or not?