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Drug Testing News
New law to require
drug test before cab driver gets license
Article ran : 05/17/2003
By MATT DEES AND ROSELEE PAPANDREA
DAILY NEWS STAFF
Cab drivers in Jacksonville soon could be facing a drug test
before they can get a permit to drive a taxi.
The General Assembly approved a bill Wednesday that gives
municipalities the option of making taxi companies require
applicants to pass a controlled substance examination before
issuing a license. It will be sent to the governor for his
Ken Bumgarner, Jacksonville's police chief, said City Attorney
John Carter is drafting an ordinance amendment for the City
Council to consider.
"It's a safety factor for the city because the city regulates
the cab companies," Bumgarner said. "We have the
responsibility of ensuring that whoever is behind the wheel is
a safe driver and drug free.
"We've been able to do safety inspections and background
checks, but we've never been able to do a drug test. I think
it's another safety factor for the public that says, 'you are
safe if you take a cab.'"
Mayor Pro-Tem Jerry Bittner, for one, was receptive to the
"I think we should look into it," he said, noting that others
who deal with the public, such as police officers and
firefighters, must submit to drug testing.
"Since they're transporting the public, that should be
something we should consider."
Beth Wood, co-owner of Tarheel Taxi in Jacksonville, welcomed
the new law.
"The problem is that there are so many cab companies around
that if you tell someone who comes in looking for a job that
they'll need to take a drug test, they'll turn around and walk
away," she said. "But if it comes down as a law, then
everybody has to comply.
"That's wonderful. I'm all for it."
But Wood said she was worried about who would pay for any
test. She said drivers now have to pay $80 to $85 to begin
work, which she thinks is too high.
The permit fee is $15, but drivers also must pay for a vehicle
inspection, criminal background check, photos and
"If they're looking at raising the fees even higher, I think
they need to take another look at how they decide how to pay
for this," Wood said. "These people are just trying to make a
living, like everybody else.
She added that many would-be drivers are Marine spouses or
Marines looking for extra work.
A drug test requirement wouldn't just benefit riders or cab
companies looking to keep their professional noses clean.
Carol Long, director of Onslow United Transit Services, said
the bill is a boon for public transportation as well.
She said has tried to get a taxi cab company to agree to serve
as a back-up to public transit services, but they balked when
told of the alcohol and drug-testing requirements they would
"It's been really hard to find a company that would do that
because of the expense and the scrutiny," Long said. "With
this, we could send out a bid to get somebody to help people
who can't get in one of the vans. I think it's a great thing."