OCEAN CITY – Taxicabs received a break this week when the Mayor and City Council agreed to allow 30-day temporary permits, giving potential drivers the chance to get out on the roads sooner rather than later.
City Solicitor Guy Ayres presented the amended ordinance to the Mayor and City Council this week, outlining recent changes regarding taxi permits.
The Ocean City Police Commission had fielded concerns from several local cab drivers earlier this summer, specifically regarding the lengthy waiting period for permit approval. It was argued the long wait was anti-business and causing a financial hardship for the companies and drivers.
To obtain a permit to drive a taxi within the town, a variety of conditions must be met, one of which is to pass a criminal background check.
Ayres explained to the council that the process has become rather lengthy lately, with the police now required to send away from background checks.
“The police department was directed that they can no longer use criminal background checks to do a civilian background check,” said Ayres.
“The process is going to get a lot longer because they can no longer go to the computer to get an instant background check,” said Captain Kevin Kirstein, adding that it could take as long as eight weeks to get reports back.
The 30-day temporary permit will allow drivers to work for local cab companies while the pending application and driving and criminal background checks are being processed.
The ordinance amendments also call for applicants to sign their application under oath, with the penalty of perjury.
If a temporary permit is issued and it is revealed the applicant lied and does have a criminal history, they will not be allowed to apply for another permit for a minimum of three years and are subject to perjury charges.
Police Chief Bernadette DiPino will also maintain the right to extend the temporary permit in two-week increments.
“How’s the public protected here?,” questioned Council member Margaret Pillas.
Kirstein maintained that the penalty of perjury and three-year time lapse to reapply would likely be enough of a concern to deter drivers with a criminal history from applying in the first place.
The council voted unanimously to approve the changes.