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When Uber Drivers Are Drunk

Written by Ankin Law Office

When Uber drivers are impaired and cause an accident, the rideshare company can be held liable for injuries. Uber is under investigation for allowing its rideshare drivers to pick up and transport passengers while under the influence of alcohol.

Drunk Uber Drivers are Endangering Passengers

A recent investigation revealed that Uber drivers have received numerous complaints by passengers for driving drunk. Between August 2014 and August 2015, regulators with the California Public Utilities Commission reviewed 154 passenger complaints. Regulators claim that out of those 154 complaints, Uber only investigated 21 cases by contacting just 50 of the drivers accused of drunk driving. Reports showed that Uber failed to investigate or suspend drivers in at least 25 cases, even though many drivers had three or more prior complaints. In some cases where drivers were suspended, the drivers continued to pick up and drive Uber passengers while under the influence of alcohol. As a result of the Uber drunk driving investigation, Uber faces 151 violations with a total fine of $1,132,500.

In Illinois, one Uber driver has been charged with felony drunk driving for transporting a passenger in Kane County while intoxicated. Reports from the Kane County State’s Attorney’s office state that a 45-year-old driver was charged with aggravated DUI, a class 4 felony, and disorderly conduct, a class C misdemeanor. Since ride-share services pick up passengers, Uber drivers are considered commercial drivers who face harsher penalties for endangering people they pick up and transport in their vehicles.

Over the past few years, Uber has come under fire for a number of passenger complaints accusing drivers of inappropriate, foul language, theft, physical violence, and sexual assaults. In the recent drunk driving accusations, regulators blame Uber for failing to promptly flag drunk drivers and protect passengers’ safety. Reports show that Uber lumped complaints into a general box, instead of investigating individual complaints and issuing warnings or suspensions for drunk driving.

Drunk driving is still a big problem across the country. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 37,461 people were killed in traffic accidents in 2016. One-third of those deaths resulted from drunk driving. In the U.S., motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for people between 16 and 25 years of age. In Illinois, drivers arrested and charged with DUI can expect an automatic license suspension within 46 days after arrest and criminal charges if convicted of the DUI charge. If convicted of a felony DUI, drivers face steep fines and possible jail time.