Uber bans driver after drug-related arrest in Costa Mesa
An Uber driver arrested in Costa Mesa on suspicion of possessing a concealed knife, methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and unprescribed Xanax has been banned from driving for the ride-hailing company, according to an Uber spokeswoman.
Ramon Iribe, 23, of Corona was arrested at about 2:30 a.m. Monday in the 400 block of Fair Drive after an officer pulled over his Nissan Altima and found out there was a warrant for his arrest, according to the Costa Mesa Police Department.
Three female passengers in the car were released by police.
Tracey Breeden, a spokeswoman for Uber, said the passengers notified the company of the arrest through the feedback feature on the Uber app.
“We followed up on it immediately upon finding out and suspended his account,” Breeden said. “We began looking into the allegations.”
Iribe, an Uber driver for less than four months, later was permanently banned.
“There’s zero tolerance for drugs or alcohol at Uber,” Breeden said.
Iribe remains employed at another job at a warehouse in Corona.
His mother, Maria, posted his $25,000 bail from Orange County Jail on Monday. He is due in court Sept. 12.
In a phone interview Wednesday night, Iribe said the drugs found in the car were not his. He said the three passengers seemed intoxicated and that one of them dropped methamphetamine in his car.
“What the police accused me of was false,” he said. “I picked up three ladies in my car after I’d signed off of Uber. I was done for the night and just wanted to go home, but they seemed like they needed help so I offered them a ride.
“My mistake was that I didn’t take the Uber sticker off my car,” he added. “I was signed off of the app ... and I forgot to take the sticker off.”
Prospective Uber drivers are required to undergo a background check, according to the company’s website. The screening process looks at a candidate’s driving record, any criminal convictions in the past seven years and any listing on a sex offender registry. It does not look at arrests without convictions.
In January, Iribe was charged with corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant, a misdemeanor, and was listed as a fugitive, according to Orange County Superior Court records. He is scheduled to be arraigned in that case on Monday.
He separated from his wife last year after five years of marriage.
In September, Iribe pleaded not guilty to four charges of misdemeanor battery and a misdemeanor charge of child abuse, according to court records.
Iribe’s pre-screening for Uber came back clear at the end of April, when he signed on as a driver, according to the company.
Breeden said Uber rechecks drivers’ backgrounds periodically and that a second screening on Iribe, in July, also came back clear.
The company suspends a driver’s account following any feedback detailing an arrest or possession of illegal drugs or weapons.
While the account is suspended, the company conducts an internal investigation. Uber has a law enforcement outreach team that works with police on investigations.
“We also follow up with the driver and the rider,” Breeden said.
The two-way feedback feature on the app is one of the company’s main sources of information on drivers’ performance.
Though Iribe can no longer work as a driver for Uber, he can use the app as a passenger, Breeden said.
“I’m not sure what’s going to happen next,” Iribe said. “But I’m not a felon.”