Uber Plans to Patent Technology to Alert Them of a Drunk Fare

If you’re a person who is conscientious of not driving while intoxicated, you may have celebrated the birth of ride-sharing, allowing you to catch a ride home after a night out. One of the biggest ride-sharing companies, Uber, has drawn up plans for artificial intelligence that will be able to detect if you’re drunk or not before you step into the back seat.

Uber’s Planned Patent

Driving while intoxicated is illegal and just not a good idea. It’s far safer to hail an Uber and let them drive you home. But they want to know ahead of time if you’re drunk. Not necessarily to avoid giving you a ride but to make different accommodations for you.

What Uber plans to do is work on plans for a system that would detect if a customer is drunk. In 2016, Uber’s Trust & Safety team tracked and described how a potential fare would use Uber’s app. This would include how quickly and accurately they type, how well they click the buttons on their smartphone, their walking speed, and how they typically hold their phone or even drop it.


Under this patent, when you hail the Uber, it would take all of that information into its algorithm, as well as the time and location of the requested pickup. If it’s close to closing time in an area with a good deal of bars, this would alert the driver that you could be an intoxicated fare.

If the AI decides you are most likely intoxicated, the driver might get a notification pertaining to that on their phone, or they could be told to meet you a bit later to give you more time to get out to the car before they leave. It’s also possible that only certain drivers with the right type of training would pick up you up if it determines you could be intoxicated, and you might not be allowed to join a shared ride with other fares.

Potential Problems

While it all sounds well and good and like something designed to make drivers and their fares safer, it’s also easy to see how such a system could be abused and why this would bother someone using it.

We’re at a day age where no one wants any type of data kept on them, and data regarding whether or not a person may be drunk could particularly be upsetting to someone.


The Verge suggests a driver might decline picking up a ride if the app determined you may be drunk. But from someone who has talked frequently with Uber drivers during a ride, they have a really good idea if you’re drunk or not and know where and when they might be picking up people more likely to be drunk.

Additionally, it could be used in an opposite way. Not every driver has the best of intentions. There has been cases of assault by Uber drivers when taking advantage of their fares. Imagine how such an algorithm could help them complete their nefarious tasks.

Will Uber Install This Technology?

Whether or not Uber will install this technology is still unknown. It’s still in the patent application process as of now. While they have the best of intentions most likely, there definitely seems to be reasons why not everyone would be accepting of it. It would not be a comfortable situation for this app to be judging you, and it seems like it could definitely be more hurtful than helpful to the ride-sharing business.

Do you use Uber? What do you think of them trying to isolate intoxicated passengers? Would it prevent you from using the service? Let us known if the comments section below.

Laura Tucker Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.


  1. Will Uber Install This Technology?

    You may be flagged as a drunk; your last paragraph… “the best of attentions most likely,” should be intentions.

    1. Well, I would have actually preferred to have a few cocktails in me. Instead I was dealing with a very busy weekend because my Wi-Fi was out, so I was rushing and trying to get as much done as I could using my personal hotspot.

      Thanks for catchng my typo. I have fixed it.

  2. Is Uber also going to install technology to check whether their drivers are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs?

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