Uber Driver Arrested On Suspicion Of DUI After New Year’s Day Crash

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — When getting behind the wheel isn’t an option, many choose to call services like Uber especially when ringing in the New Year.

That’s what Arlene Mendez, 19, decided to do around 1 a.m. on Jan. 1 so she could go hang out with friends.

“I’m really mad because I would’ve lost my life,” she said.

When the driver picked her up, Mendez says she immediately felt uncomfortable with his rate of speed on local streets.

“Actually I looked over his shoulder to see how fast he was going and it said 80. He was going 80. And that’s when I told him to slow down, but he didn’t listen to me,” she said.

The next thing Mendez knew: the Uber driver had slammed into a car making a turn from Blanchard Street.

“The car flipped over and I was just screaming. I was just screaming,” she said.

Good Samaritans pulled Mendez from the mangled car.

Her aunt was shocked when the California Highway Patrol arrived and administered a field sobriety test on the driver.

“They had him do a test walking in a straight line, which he failed,” said Crystal Mendez, Arlene’s aunt. “So then they did the breathalyzer. When they did the breathalyzer, that’s when they handcuffed him. They told us that he was drunk and they were taking him into custody.”

The CHP said the Uber driver, Juan Pablo Garcia, 22, was speeding and was later arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.

“She was trying to be safe. She got Uber because she was trying to do the right thing,” she said.

Uber sent CBS Los Angeles a statement saying that they a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol or drugs.

The company said Uber has permanently barred the driver from using the platform and are grateful no one was seriously injured.

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