Uber disputes recent claims of hiring drunk driver after $9 million in fines
If you haven’t already heard the headline DUI news in Denver this week, then let me fill you in on it: Uber is disputing claims that a man who was arrested for driving three times over the legal limit after crashing into another car and injuring their inhabitants while transporting an Uber customer was, in fact, working for Uber.
But let me tell you the full story…
In January 2017, a man named Brain Haas was arrested by the Denver police for injuring two people in a drunk collision. Haas was later found to have been driving with over three times the legal limit with his blood alcohol level coming in at .228. District Attorney George Brauchler stated that “the only place for a repeat drunken driver with
such an extraordinary BAC (Blood alcohol content) who hurts somebody while driving drunk is prison”. In the trial, the prosecutors argued for Haas to be sentenced to six ears in prison, saying that this punishment is being asked for “on behalf of the community we work to protect”. Strangely, when the sentencing was announced it consisted of only community service and time served.
This meant that, when the trail ended, Haas only spent 65 days in prison for his crime and wasn’t required to stay there any longer. When he was released, his only reprimand was
that he had to complete three years of community service. Many of those following Haas’s trail were outraged by the fact that such a light punishment had been passed. Karl Gopsill was the man behind the steering wheel of the car that Haas plowed into in January. In an interview with CNN Denver, Gopsill said “I don’t think [his punishment] is acceptable. I don’t understand how you can drive under the influence three different times, and change three lives, and get nothing for it.”
What is even more shocking about the case was that Hass had already been convicted of two
DWAIs (Driving while ability impaired) in 1992 and 1996 and was clearly perceived as posing a
threat to others on the road… yet Uber hired him.
What’s more: the only reason Haas was behind the wheel at that particular time was because he working as an Uber driver and was picking up a customer. In the police report, the woman who was in the car with Haas at the time of the accident stated that she “went through the Uber app and contacted Haas… to get a ride home from a grocery store”.
Fast forward to November that year, and Uber had been forced to pay almost $9 million in fines by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission for hiring drivers with felonies and/or drunk driving convictions. The Colorado PUC stated that by hiring such people Uber had violated the driver qualifications laws. The violations were found to have happened over 18 months and involved 57 Uber drivers.
Public Utilities Commission Director Doug Dean said that ”Uber had background information that should have disqualified these drivers under the law, but they were allowed to driveanyway”. The violations included DUI, DWI, driving under restraint, and numerous instances of individuals driving with a suspended, revoked, or cancelled license. Now, almost a year after Haas was arrested, Uber is disputing claims that Haas was registered with them at the time of the January 2017 incident.
An Uber spokesman said that Haas’s employment had been terminated three months before the accident and that Uber records did not show any pickup at a grocery store in the area at the specified time of the pick-up. However, Uber did not respond to the Uber sign that was clearly displayed in Haas’s car in the photographs of the car crash, nor did they respond to the fact that Haas was hired despite his previous DUI convictions.