Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft have become popular enough that many people now use them when planning a night out instead of a designated driver. While studies have offered mixed results, some cities have seen a marked decline in the number of DUIs since Uber and Lyft became available in their area. Both companies have some pretty strict rules regarding DUIs in a person’s driving history. The companies require that a driver applying to work for the companies have a DUI-free driving record for the past 7 years. In some states, they have adopted a zero-tolerance policy, deactivating drivers when customers accuse them of intoxication, even when the customer may be trying to scam a free ride, as CNet reports.
Shannon Powell had been driving for Uber for three and a half years. He had a 4.88 rating, which is stellar, and had completed more than 14,000 trips. In early February, Uber pinged him, stating that a passenger claimed that he might have been driving under the influence. The company then deactivated his account.
Uber takes a strict zero-tolerance stance on drivers who are under the influence while working. Uber got into trouble in 2018 in California, where it was fined $750,000 for not fully investigating complaints of intoxication.
In Powell’s case, after he got the complaint of intoxication, he went to an urgent care facility and paid out-of-pocket for a toxicology test. The test proved that he was sober.
Lyft has a similar policy to Uber’s, but Lyft takes into consideration past interactions with customers. If a customer has been known to leave bad reviews in the hopes of a free ride, it is documented. Uber tends to give the benefit of the doubt to the passenger.
Many drivers are choosing to deal with bogus complaints by installing dash cams. These cameras record footage of both the driver and the passenger and can be handed over as proof that a driver was not intoxicated. In one case, such footage caught the customer bragging that he made complaints of intoxication to get free rides. That driver was reinstated.