Austin Lyft driver arrested for DWI with passenger in vehicle

AUSTIN - An Austin Lyft driver was arrested March 8 for drunk driving in North Austin while he had a passenger in the vehicle.

The passenger was Alex Grant who's been a Lyft customer for two years.

"I use Lyft almost every day to get to work," said Grant.

Grant was picked up last Tuesday by Allen Edmonds.

"Whenever we got onto Parmer [Lane] he started kind of like getting over a lane on accident and I was like, kind of okay, maybe he's just not paying attention," Grant said.

According to a police affidavit, Edmonds' driving also caught the attention of an Austin police office. Grant said as the ride continued, Edmonds' driving got worse.

"Basically by the time we made it to Parmer and MoPac, the light was green and he brakes and then got over a lane in the intersection and at that point I was kind of like 'Okay, I'm going to ask him to stop' and before I could even ask him to stop, we got pulled over," Grant said.

Edmonds was stopped on the opposite side of MoPac from where he started driving, less than three miles away from where he picked up Grant.

"The police stopped us and he was going for his insurance in the glove box and when he leaned over he smelled really heavily of beer," said Grant. "I did watch him do the sobriety test. It looked like he failed it pretty hard."

Lyft spokesperson Alexandra LaManna sent the following statement about the incident:

"We have a strict zero-tolerance drug and alcohol policy for Lyft drivers and any behavior threatening the safety of a Lyft community member is not tolerated. Upon learning of this incident, we permanently removed the driver's access to Lyft."

KVUE News has learned this was not Edmonds' first DWI arrest. In 2004 he was arrested for DWI, possession of a controlled substance and obstructing highway passageway. County and state records show the prosecutor dropped the DWI charge and Edmonds plead guilty to two counts of possession and served two days in jail. He was sentenced to 18 months probation for the obstruction charge.

According the Lyft's website, drivers can't have DUI's, drug or driving related convictions in the last seven years. Edmonds conviction was 12 years ago.

Grant said he'd like to see better background checks and policies.

"When you're getting into a Lyft, you think that you have a safe ride," he said.

He also wants more compensation from the company. Grant said Lyft gave him five free rides for the experience.

"I contacted them right away and talked to their Critical Response Team and I got five free rides out of it and that's like not really much," said Grant. "Kind of puts a weird value on my life right?"

Grant added he doesn't think this experience reflects ride-sharing as a whole and since he sold his car, and said he will continue to use Lyft.