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Uber may face fine over handling of drunk-driving complaints

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Uber could be fined $1.13 million for failing to investigate and/or suspend California drivers who are reported by a passenger to be intoxicated, according to an order filed by the state Public Utilities Commission.

The state requires ride-hailing companies to have a zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The order, issued Tuesday, "found no evidence that (Uber) followed up in any way with zero-tolerance complaints several hours or even one full day after passengers filed such complaints."

Uber can contest the proposed fine before a judge.

The order asks the full commission to determine if Uber is in violation of the zero-tolerance policy, as investigators found.

Uber spokeswoman Tracey Breeden said Thursday that the company has no comment on the order.

Uber's policy is to ban a driver when the driver receives three unconfirmed zero tolerance complaints, according to the order.

Unconfirmed means there is no arrest, admission, positive blood-alcohol test or video of the intoxication.

To confirm the policy, regulators analyzed selected complaints against drivers who received three or more complaints.

In at least 25 instances, Uber failed to suspend or investigate a driver after three or more complaints, the order states.

Uber has reported receiving 2,047 zero-tolerance complaints between August 2014 and August 2015.

The company said drivers were banned from working in 574 of those complaints, according to the order.

But regulators then reviewed 154 complaints, and determined that the company failed to promptly suspend drivers in 149 complaints. The company also failed to investigate 133 complaints, and did not suspend a driver or investigate 113 complaints, the order shows.

Twenty-two times Uber suspended the driver within one hour of when a passenger filed a complaint.