According to a Denver ABC7 news report, a drunk Uber driver who injured a passenger in Douglas County was convicted of driving under the influence (DUI). There are a couple of strange things about this case, first that the driver got off with a relatively light sentence, and second, that Uber claims they had no record of the ride request.
Community Service and Time Served for Injury DUI (and 3rd Offense)
On January 20, 2017, Brain Haas crashed into Karl Gopsill at the intersection of East Lincoln Ave and Chambers Rd. Gopsill suffered a concussion and nerve damage in the arms. A passenger in the vehicle also suffered broken ribs. Haas had a blood alcohol level of 0.228, almost 3 times the legal limit. This was Haas' 3rd alcohol-related driving offense, with two DWAIs from 1992 and 1996, in Boulder County and El Paso County, respectively.
Even prosecutors are upset with the sentence handed down by the judge in the injury drunk driving accident. Under Colorado Revised Statutes 18-3-205, driving under the influence of drugs that causes serious bodily injury is vehicular assault. The penalties for an injury DUI include 2 to 4 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.
Haas was convicted of vehicular assault and prosecutors were seeking a prison term of 6 years, based on it being a 3rd drunk driving offense, and a high-alcohol DUI, and there was a passenger in the vehicle. However, the judge sentenced Haas to 3 years of community service and time served (for the 65 days Haas spent in jail).
Is Uber No Longer Liable for a Former Uber Driver Posing as a Current Uber Driver?
When is an Uber driver no longer an Uber driver? While it may be against the rules, it is not uncommon for an Uber or Lyft driver to give their personal contact information to a rideshare passenger, offering a return ride or future ride at a discount. Passengers may not be aware that requesting a ride directly from their Uber rider may not cover them under Uber's insurance liability.
According to the Douglas County District Attorney, Uber was named based on information presented in court, including:
- The victim told officers on scene she had contacted defendant Brian Haas via the Uber app
- The defendant told police the victim contacted him because he was an Uber driver
- The defendant's car had an Uber sticker
- The defendant told the court after the verdict that he was an Uber driver
So, the injured passenger said she contacted the driver through Uber and the driver told the court he was an Uber driver. However, Uber says the driver was not active, even though he was an active Uber driver at least 3 months before.
Instead of trying to make everything clear for riders, passengers, and the public in general, Uber's first response is generally to claim that they are not responsible, even if it is not so clear for everyone else involved.
DUI Injury Accident With Former Uber Driver
According to Uber, “we provide a removable Uber sticker to be displayed on your vehicle whenever you're online. If the sticker is not properly displayed, or if it's not visible while you're driving with the Uber app (day or night), you could be issued with a fine by local authorities.”
However, Uber does not require drivers to remove the stickers or return the stickers if they are no longer valid drivers with the ride-hailing company. This obviously creates confusion for other drivers and passengers who see a vehicle that looks like it is approved to provide Uber rides.
Uber already has a spotty record when it comes to approving drivers. In November of 2017, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission found 57 drivers who should not have been approved, including felony convictions, major moving violations, and drivers with active ignition interlock devices. Uber was fined $8.9 million for the record check violations.
Accident With an Impaired Uber or Lyft Driver
Don't leave it up to Uber or Lyft to determine whether or not you get compensation for your injuries. If you or a loved one has been injured in any rideshare accident in Boulder or the greater Denver metropolitan area, do not hesitate to contact accidentdenver.com today at 303-642-8888 for a free consultation.