FAIRBANKS, Alaska -- The Fairbanks City Council voted unanimously Monday to adopt an ordinance that drops some of the requirements for those seeking the license, which is required for drivers of commercial passenger vehicles such as taxicabs, motorcoaches, vans and limousines.
The most changes were made to required background checks. Applicants had been required to obtain and submit their criminal and driving records from every state they had lived in, a flawed system since it relied on the honesty of the applicants and whether they chose to reveal residency in a state where they might have a record. The city will now perform its own records check, using an online criminal background check agency that provides data from all 50 states as well as an automatic check of the National Sex Offender Registry.
The requirement to submit two character references with the license applications was dropped because it was deemed time consuming, rarely effective and penalized drivers who were new to town.
Also dropped was a requirement that chauffeur license holders take a defensive driving course every two years after obtaining their license, even though they did not have to do so to obtain the license in the first place. According to City Clerk Janey Hovenden, who authored an explanatory document accompanying the ordinance, the defensive driving requirement only benefited cab companies by saving them money on their insurance costs, was inconvenient to the license holder, added up to $50 in fees and made no sense because it hurt career cab drivers who had already proven their safety and driving capabilities after two years on the job.
A resolution amending the city schedule of fees to reflect the changes in chauffeur licensing requirements was pulled from the consent agenda and passed unanimously as well.
Council member John Eberhart was not present and was excused from voting.
Read more: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner