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Lawmaker Calls for Tougher Background Checks for Rideshare Drivers

SACRAMENTO -- It happens thousands of times a day in thousands of cities -- someone gets out of or into a rideshare.

"You're putting someone else's life in your hands. You're driving them around, getting them home and getting them safe," Gabby Surridge said. "So you should be able to pass this kind of background check to make sure you're an upstanding citizen."

Counting on some kind of company safety net, Surridge has been able to get from here to there safely every time she's opted for a rideshare but investigators say for at least four women in California had a much different outcome.

"They called for an Uber and did exactly what they should do and they got absolutely victimized and taken advantage of," San Luis Obispo Police Chief Deanna Cantrell said.

Driver Alfonso Alarcon-Nunez, also known as Bruno Diaz, is now facing 10 felony charges.

"He was using the app to see where people had ordered rides and then he'd show up with his Uber sticker and then represent himself as their Uber driver and then in some cases take them home and commit rape, steal their belongings," Asm. Jordan Cunningham said.

Cunningham, R-San Luis Obispo, has sent a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission asking for better and more regular accounting of the background checks done by rideshare companies.

"It may turn out that Uber was doing everything it was supposed to do and that there's nothing that would have popped up on this guy's background that would have been a red flag," Cunningham said. "That may be the case, I just don't know."

But Cunningham says if something more can be done to ensure rider safety, it should be.

Alarcon-Nunez is an immigrant from Mexico living in the U.S. illegally, who was voluntarily deported from New Mexico in 2005.