A Lyft driver in Austin, Texas, made it about 2 miles with a passenger on March 8 before police pulled over the 44-year-old driver, Allen Edmonds, and arrested him on a drunken-driving charge, according to court documents.
Passenger Alex Grant said Edmonds stopped at a green light, then veered into other lanes before he was pulled over at 10:55 p.m.
"That was where I was like, 'I need to get out of the car,'" Grant said.
Edmonds admitted to drinking two beers, his arrest affidavit said. Police found an empty can in the vehicle's center console and several 16-ounce cans of beer in the SUV. Edmonds smelled of alcohol, Grant said.
Edmonds failed to touch his heel to his toe, turned improperly, lost his balance during the instructions and stepped off the line during a sobriety test, the affidavit said.
He declined to give police a breath sample to test for intoxication, the affidavit said.
“It was pretty bad," Grant said. "I’ve seen a lot of people get sobriety tests because I used to work downtown, and he was struggling."
Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Wilson said in a statement that the company has a zero-tolerance drug and alcohol policy for its drivers and that it doesn’t tolerate behavior that threatens passenger safety.
"As soon as we learned of this incident, we permanently removed the driver," Wilson said.
Edmonds could not be reached for comment. He was previously arrested in 2004, though prosecutors dropped a drunken-driving charge against him after he pleaded guilty to two counts of drug possession, court records show.
Lyft says on its website that drivers cannot have a drunken-driving offense or a drug-related conviction in the last seven years.
Grant said Lyft gave him five free rides for his trouble. After Edmonds was pulled over, Grant said he immediately called Lyft’s 24/7 emergency response line.
Lyft representatives say on their website that callers shouldn’t use that as a substitute for 911.
Austin city law allows those convicted of some significant crimes to apply for an Austin chauffeur’s license as long as they have served their time in jail or prison, have maintained employment since getting out and have paid any fines or restitution ordered by a court. Among the crimes are homicide, theft, car theft, driving while intoxicated and sexual assault.
The city’s parking operations division can still deny someone a chauffeur’s license because of a criminal background, but some Austin taxi drivers with legal permits do have criminal backgrounds, officials have said.
Austin City Council Member Ann Kitchen has said that that section of city law needs to be changed.
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