CHICO, Calif. - Companies seeking permits from the city for taxi cab and limousine drivers must now have them tested for controlled substances.
Chico police began enforcing a year-old city ordinance requiring testing last month, after finding out that cab companies and other so-called "livery" services weren't notified about the recent law.
According to Chico police Sgt. George Laver, drivers must test negative for controlled substances when permits are initially applied for or renewed. Testing will also be ordered when a driver's regular state-issued class C license expires.
"It's now a condition of employment," Laver said, adding the responsibility for ordering the screening is up to cab company owners.
Results of the test are submitted directly to the Police Department by testing facilities. The first screenings were done earlier this month, and Laver said the results haven't come back.
To be valid, test results must be submitted within 30 days.
Permits for drivers were previously issued through the City Manager's Office. Responsibility shifted to the city's General Services Division, then to the police.
"We noticed that drug testing wasn't being done, so now we're enforcing it," said Nancy Wilson, records supervisor with the police.
Laver said the department will do follow-up to make sure any drivers who don't pass the screening aren't on the road. If a driver quits one company and wants to drive for another, a new test is required.
Laver said nothing in the city ordinance, revised in 2007, has changed as a result of police getting involved in the process.
"This is just another mechanism to make cabs safer," Laver said. "We would hope that any of the drivers out there will be deterred from any activity that would endanger passengers."
Among histories that would prevent a driver from getting a permit is conviction for drunken driving in the past five years, conviction for a felony or any crime of moral turpitude.
There are currently eight taxi cab companies operating in the Chico area. Driver's for many of them work as independent contractors, but company owners will be responsible for ordering and paying for the testing.
Source: Chico Enterprise-Record