DEWEY BEACH, Del. - Dewey Beach police are cracking down on unlicensed cab drivers.
A taxi must be registered through the Department of Motor Vehicles to legally pick up passengers. According to Sgt. Cliff Dempsey, the number of unlicensed cabs in Dewey Beach is very high.
"The unlicensed cabs run the risk of raising their rates without the customers knowing it, they might not have the right placards on the vehicle," he said. "The customer might never know this and might be paying double or not getting the service that they would from a licensed cab company."
To combat this problem, the police added three officers to their code enforcement unit to work towards identifying the unregistered drivers.
"We want all these cabs to be on the record here so we know exactly what kind of driver is in our town and if they have their licensing and insurance," Sgt. Dempsey explained.
Jim Allen, owner of Beach Ride Taxi, said there is a passenger bill of rights that all cab drivers in Delaware must adhere to. Some rights include the passenger choosing the route, having the meter running at all times and no smoking in the vehicle.
"The cabs have to get inspected twice a year, they have to go through DMV, we have to pass a background check, FBI, state background check," Allen said. "And then there's a DMV safety test online you have to take."
Rich Nofi, the General Manager at Hammerheads, has noticed a problem with unlicensed cabs in the past.
"We always encourage our bartenders and staff to serve responsibly, and if we're gonna take our steps in doing that we would like for them to get home safely," he said. "That's not guaranteed as much when you have people coming in from out of town taking advantage of them, especially after they've had a couple drinks."
Another problem Dewey Beach is facing is cabs coming from other states to pick up passengers, especially on busy summer nights. Not only is this illegal, but it also takes away business from the locally registered cab companies.
"It takes money out of our pocket the local people," Allen said. "You gotta remember it's a short season and there's only four months a year to make it."
One step Dewey Beach has already taken is issuing bright orange decals to indicate to passengers which cabs are registered in the town and state.
If you encounter an unlicensed or out-of-state cab you can report it to the DMV.
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