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Holiday Taxi Tips
updated: Dec 19, 2013, 2:27 PM

Source: SBPD

The Santa Barbara Police Department would like to remind the public to never drink and drive. When your holiday celebrations include drinking, always arrange for a designated driver, taxicab, or alternate form of transportation.

The taxicab industry provides a valuable service to our community, helping to reduce the number of alcohol-related traffic accidents during the holidays and throughout the year. However, the public should be aware of the following City laws and regulations to ensure the best experience when using taxicabs in the City of Santa Barbara:

· "Minimum Fee" Illegal in the City: Taxi drivers can never charge a "minimum fee" or a "flat rate" that exceeds the metered rate, even during special events, holidays, and busy weekends. It is never legal for a taxi driver to request more than the metered rate. NOTE: drivers may charge a lower rate than the metered fare, but even then the meter must start when the cab ride begins and must end when the cab stops, so passengers know what the actual rate would have been, and can verify that the rate they're paying is the same as or less than the total on the meter.

· Charging More for Groups is Illegal: Taxi drivers can't charge more than the metered rate regardless of the number of passengers in a party, whether it's a single passenger or a large group. Also, drivers must never force passengers to ride together unless the passengers request to be grouped.

· Drivers Cannot Refuse Short-Distance Fares: Taxi drivers cannot refuse a fare based on distance and can never demand a "minimum fee" that exceeds the metered rate for short fares.

· Know Your Cab and Driver: Always ask the driver for a business card and take note of the cab company, cab number, and driver's name. If you accidentally leave something in the cab, or if you later have a complaint about the cab or driver, that information will be important.

· It is Illegal for Drivers to Demand Money or Other Compensation for the Return of Lost Items: It has recently come to our attention that some taxicab drivers have been demanding payment from passengers for the return of property left in the taxicab. This is illegal. Taxi drivers are required by law to turn over all lost property within 24 hours, either to the person who lost it or to the Santa Barbara Police Department. If a driver ever asks you for money for the return of lost items, contact the Police Department immediately.

· Complaints, Comments, and Reports of Violations: All complaints, comments, and concerns about taxi drivers or the taxicab industry should be directed to the SBPD Police Technician: (805) 897-2333 or permits@sbpd.com. Please provide as much detail as possible about the cab and/or driver in question.

· Cleaning Fees (Caution): Most drivers charge a cleaning fee to passengers who get sick in the taxi. The fee must be posted on the interior of the taxicab. When a passenger gets sick in a taxi, even "a little," the driver must take the taxi out of service to get it thoroughly cleaned and deodorized. Not only does the driver incur the cost of the cleaning, but he/she also loses up to a full day's (or night's) business while the cab is out of service. To avoid being charged a cleaning fee, wait a short while before taking a taxi if you or anyone in your group feels sick or is overly-intoxicated. NOTE: This fee is not regulated by the Police Department or the City. Disputes over cleaning fees are civil matters and are not handled by the Police. This information is included simply as a courtesy to the public.


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