Colorado regulators slapped Uber with an $8.9 million penalty for allowing 57 people with past criminal or motor vehicle offenses to drive for the company, the state’s Public Utilities Commission announced Monday.
The PUC said Uber had 57 drivers who were disqualified to drive for transportation network companies that are ride-sharing services allowed under state law. Those drivers had a litany of issues, including major moving violations such as driving under the influence, reckless driving and driving under restraint. Some Uber drivers also had their licenses revoked, suspended or canceled.
“We have determined that Uber had background check information that should have disqualified these drivers under the law, but they were allowed to drive anyway,” PUC Director Doug Dean said in a statement. “These actions put the safety of passengers in extreme jeopardy.
An Uber spokeswoman was reviewing the case and did not have immediate comment.
Uber was welcomed to Colorado in June 2014, when Gov. John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 125 to authorize ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft. The PUC was then charged with creating rules to regulate the services, which went into effect on Jan. 30, 2016.
Part of the new rules forced the transportation network companies to perform a criminal history record check and get the driver’s history before letting someone drive. Drivers also must have a valid driver’s license.
Drivers are disqualified if they have been convicted of certain offenses, including having felony convictions, alcohol or drug-related driving offenses, unlawful sexual offenses and major moving vehicle violations.
But much of vetting was left up to the company. Taxi drivers, by comparison, had stricter criminal background checks and are subject to fingerprint background checks by the FBI and Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
Monday’s fine is a civil penalty assessment and based on a citation of $2,500 per day for each disqualified driver found to have worked. Among the findings, 12 drivers had felony convictions, 17 had major moving violations, 63 had driver’s license issues and three had interlock driver’s licenses, which is required after a recent drunk driving conviction.
Only those with a driver’s license issue and another violation were part of the 57 drivers who included in the penalty.
Uber has 10 days to pay 50 percent of the $8.9 million penalty or request a hearing to contest the violation before an administrative law judge.