TIVERTON, R.I. (WPRI) — When Ryan Mendonca and Meghan Crispino called an Uber to get home after celebrating New Year’s Eve, they never expected their driver would not only get pulled over, but also arrested for the same reason they decided not to drive themselves.
The Tiverton couple tells 12 News they decided to head home from Middletown after having a few drinks at a friend’s house.
When their driver, identified by police as Carlos Cordova, called Crispino to tell her he had arrived, things immediately seemed off.
“He told us he was the pizza man,” Crispino said, adding that he initially couldn’t find their friend’s house to pick them up.
After directing Cordova to the house, Crispino and Mendonca hopped into the back of his Buick Enclave, eager to get home, let their dogs out and go to bed.
But things still didn’t seem right.
“So we get in the car and he asks us if we mind that he drives really slow,” Crispino said.
“We kind of noticed some swerving here and there and thought nothing of it,” Mendonca added. “We figured it was just because he was talking to us and was distracted.”
The couple said Cordova was pulled over near the park-and-ride on Fish Road.
“That’s where things went downhill,” Mendonca said.
Both Crispino and Mendonca said they weren’t sure why police pulled Cordova over at first.
“We just figured it was just police being a little extra cautious because it was New Year’s Eve,” Crispino said.
The reason for the traffic stop became clear once the officers asked Cordova to complete a series of field sobriety tests.
“I guess he fell over when he tried to do it the first time and he said the ground wasn’t even enough,” Mendonca recalled. “So, they moved him into the park-and-ride parking lot and he still said it wasn’t flat enough, and they were like, ‘this is the flattest spot you’re going to get within a mile around here.'”
Ultimately, the couple watched as Cordova was taken away in handcuffs.
“Police were appalled. They said they’d never seen anything like it around here,” Crispino said.
Cordova’s breath sample revealed his BAC was .228, according to police, which is nearly three times the legal limit.
“Police said he had about eight to 10 drinks in his system,” Crispino said. “I know if I had eight to 10 drinks, I would be on the ground. So I don’t know how this man drove.”
Once Cordova was taken into custody, an officer brought the couple home.
Both Crispino and Mendonca said they’re grateful for the officers that pulled Cordova over.
“We had had a few cocktails ourselves, but that was why we were not driving,” Crispino said. “We trusted this man to get us home safely and it almost didn’t end safely … Thankfully it did.”
Crispino said she reported the incident to Uber. While the ride-share company did give the couple a refund, they feel as though more should be done.
“I wish there was a way that Uber could better vet their drivers,” Crispino said. “I feel like $15 or $20 is not really worth the same as our lives.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for Uber called the report “extremely concerning.”
“Uber has a zero-tolerance policy for any alcohol use on the app and as soon as we learned of this incident, we removed the driver’s access to the platform,” the spokesperson said.
Cordova has been charged with driving under the influence of liquor and refusal to submit a chemical test, among other traffic violations. He was released on $1,000 surety bail and is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday.