Cab Industry Drug-test Vote Delayed

March 19, 1991|By Paul Shread | Paul Shread,Staff writer

The Annapolis City Council's rules committee last night postponed a vote on a bill that would make city cab drivers and owners the first in the nation to take mandatory drug tests.

The committee's decision came after a public hearing in City Hall attended by 20 people. Cab drivers and owners disagreed about who should pay for the drug tests and differed over a proposed fare increase.

Rules committee members sent the bill back to a committee of cityofficials and cab company owners, insisting that cab drivers should have a say in drafting the legislation.

Cab drivers said they supported the bill, but objected to a requirement that they pay for the drug tests.

"Most of the people here are for the drug testing, we're just against paying for it," said Charles Martinez, who drives a cab for the Reliable Cab Co. "If you're requiring us to take the test, then the cityshould pay for it."

Cab drivers voiced the same objection to a version of the bill last year. Yellow Checker Cab Co. owner Charles Peters said a committee of city officials and cab company owners had agreed to one fewer inspection to cover the cost of the test, but Martinez said drivers didn't support the compromise.

Alderman Wayne C. Turner, R-Ward 6, and Transportation Director James Chase proposed the legislation last year after several people applying for city taxicab licenses were found to have drug records.

Under the proposal, cab drivers and owners would be required to take annual drug tests. Those who failed the test would lose their licenses or permits for three months to one year. Anyone failing the test three times would be prohibited from holding a city cab driver's license or owner's permit.

The bill also would allow the suspension of licenses and permits of people with eight points on their licenses. It would deny licenses or permits to anyone convicted of a felony in the past five years, anyone convicted of two felonies and anyone convicted of three misdemeanors, except for city code violations and minor traffic offenses.

People holding a license or permit as of Dec. 1, 1990, would not lose their licenses for felonies or misdemeanors already on their records, unless they were convicted of more offenses.

The billalso would give police broad powers to stop cabs for spot safety inspections. Cab drivers and owners objected to police stops. Alderman Carl O. Snowden, D-Ward 5, the committee's chairman, said he would propose a change that would require reasonable suspicion before police could stop cabs.

The proposal also would raise rates cab drivers charge their passengers. The basic fare would increase from $1.50 to $1.65. The charge for each additional mile would increase from $1 to $1.05.

Cab drivers spoke against the increase, which owners had requested, saying they feared losing passengers.

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