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Uber Fined For Violations In Colorado

By Rick Sallinger

DENVER (CBS4) - The ride sharing company Uber has been fined thousands of dollars so far this year for a variety of violations, including one involving a driver who didn't have a valid driver's license.

The undercover Public Utilities Commission inspectors typically pose as customers at Denver International Airport and specific locations in downtown Denver and use the ride-sharing apps to call for Uber or Lyft cars.

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When the vehicles arrive, the inspectors conduct surprise inspections.

CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger searched PUC records and found the results of those inspections.

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In the case of one Uber driver who didn't have a valid driver's license, the company was fined more than $4,300. Uber said the driver had a valid license when he first started driving for the company but at some point that license was revoked.

When the PUC notified Uber that the driver's license wasn't valid, the company said he was no longer allowed to use the app to pick up riders.

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In other cases, several vehicles were found not to have any markings that designated them as Uber vehicles. One car was found by the PUC to have skipped a mandatory inspection. Uber says that car has since received a valid inspection.

Terry Bote, the spokesman for the Public Utilities Commission, told CBS4, "We enforce to the best of our abilities under the parameters of our authority and the resources that we have."

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CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger interviews Public Utilities Commission spokesman Terry Bote (credit: CBS)

One Uber driver's medical exam had expired but he was allowed to resume driving for the company after he received a new exam.

All the citations issued for ride-sharing apps were issued to Uber this year. Lyft has not received any citations in the Denver metro area.

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"Our expectation is that the company is policing their drivers and making sure they are following the rules and if not, issue civil penalties to the company," said Bote.

Taxis undergo similar but different inspections, including fingerprinting and background checks conducted by the Colorado Bureau of Investigations.

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That is not the case for Uber and Lyft drivers.

"The safety of our riders and drivers is the top priority and we work closely with the PUC to comply with Colorado law, which requires us to perform a driving history report on each driver every 12 months. But safety does not begin and end with a background check. Our technology makes it possible to focus on safety for riders and drivers before, during, and after every trip in ways that have never been possible before."

(credit: CBS)

CBS4's Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

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