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Uber may face $1.13M in fines over drunk-driving complaints

California regulators say the ride-hailing firm didn't promptly suspend or investigate Uber drivers suspected of working under the influence.

California regulators say Uber dropped the ball in regard to drunk-driving complaints.

California regulators say Uber dropped the ball in regard to drunk-driving complaints.


David Ramos/Getty Images

Uber might have to shell out $1.13 million in fines for not properly addressing complaints in California about its drivers working while drunk.

The California Public Utilities Commission said it has "zero tolerance" rules when it comes to complaints of driving drunk or under the influence. The state's Consumer Protection and Enforcement Division looked at 154 Uber-related complaints and found that the company violated those rules in 151 of the cases between August 12, 2014, and August 31, 2015, according to an investigative order released Tuesday (PDF).

Of the 154 reviewed complaints, Uber could only prove that it attempted to contact the driver in 50 instances and only conducted any sort of investigation in 21 instances, the order says. Uber could also only show that it had suspended drivers within one hour of a passenger filing a complaint, as is required, in just 22 instances, the order says.

In response, Uber said it's updated its procedures since those complaints were filed and that the company's community guidelines strictly forbid driving under the influence.

"This report relates to complaints in 2014 and 2015, and we've significantly improved our processes since then," an Uber spokeswoman said.

The order out of California is the latest bad news for Uber. The company has come under fire for sexual harassment allegations and questionable corporate culture. It's also wading through a lawsuit involving files allegedly stolen from Waymo, Google's self driving car unit, which could halt its controversial autonomous car efforts in San Francisco and other cities. And CEO Travis Kalanick found himself in trouble after video of him arguing with an Uber driver made the rounds on the internet.

Though the order recommends $1.13 million in fines, an administrative law judge will review the situation before making recommendations to the California PUC. The filing names Uber subsidiary Rasier, through which its drivers are insured.

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