Chapter 6.54
TAXICABS AND FOR-HIRE VEHICLES

Sections:

6.54.010    Purpose – Immunity.

6.54.020    Definitions.

6.54.030    Business license required.

6.54.040    Vehicle license required – Expiration.

6.54.050    Vehicle license application – Contents.

6.54.060    Liability insurance.

6.54.070    Vehicle inspection.

6.54.080    Vehicle license fees.

6.54.090    Issuance of vehicle license.

6.54.100    Driver’s license required – Expiration.

6.54.110    Driver’s license – Application contents.

6.54.120    Driver’s license – Applicant investigation.

6.54.130    Driver’s license – Fees.

6.54.140    Issuance or denial of license.

6.54.150    Revocation of driver’s license.

6.54.160    Transfer of license.

6.54.170    Appeal procedure.

6.54.180    Enforcement.

6.54.190    Misdemeanor – Penalty.

6.54.010 Purpose – Immunity.

It is expressly the purpose of this chapter to provide for and promote the safety and welfare of the general public and not to create or designate any particular class of persons who will or should be specially protected by its terms. Nothing contained in this chapter is intended nor shall be construed to create any liability on the part of the city or its employees for any injury or damage resulting from the failure of the licensee to comply with the provisions of this chapter, or by reason or in consequence of any act or omission in connection with the implementation or enforcement of this chapter on the part of the city or its employees. [Ord. 10383, 1992].

6.54.020 Definitions.

For the purpose of this chapter, the following definitions shall apply:

“Compensation” means any payment received by the driver of a vehicle for transportation of passengers, including, but not limited to, fares, salary, wages, gratuities, or donations.

“Driver” means a person who drives a taxicab or for-hire vehicle being used to convey passengers for compensation.

“For-hire vehicle” means a vehicle used for the transportation of passengers for compensation, except auto stages, school buses operating exclusively under a contract to a school district, ride sharing vehicles, and transportation network company vehicles.

“Owner” means the legal entity, person, firm, association or corporation owning, managing or otherwise carrying on a business of conveying passengers for hire in taxicabs or for-hire vehicles.

“Taxicab” means a for-hire vehicle operated to a destination determined by the passenger, with the fare based upon the amount recorded and indicated on a taximeter.

“Taximeter” means a permanently mounted instrument or device by which the charge for hire of a taxicab is calculated either for distance traveled by the vehicle, or for waiting, or for both, and upon which such charges shall be indicated by means of dollars and cents. [Ord. 2015-10-041 § 1; Ord. 2010-10-059; Ord. 10383, 1992].

6.54.030 Business license required.

It is unlawful for an owner to engage in or carry on any taxicab or for-hire vehicle business without first procuring a business license as provided in BMC 6.04.010 through 6.04.140. Such license is in addition to the general business registration required in Chapter 6.05 BMC. [Ord. 2012-10-047 § 26; Ord. 10383, 1992].

6.54.040 Vehicle license required – Expiration.

A. It is unlawful for an owner of a taxicab or for-hire vehicle business to operate a vehicle to convey passengers for compensation without a current and valid vehicle license.

B. It is unlawful for a driver of a taxicab or for-hire vehicle to convey passengers for compensation without a current and valid vehicle license.

C. A vehicle license shall expire on January 31st of the year following the year of issuance.

D. Application for a vehicle license must be made at least 30 days before expiration of the current vehicle license. [Ord. 10383, 1992].

6.54.050 Vehicle license application – Contents.

Applicants for a vehicle license must file a written application on a form provided by the city of Bellingham. The application shall be filed with the finance department and shall include the following:

A. Name and owner of company.

B. Business address.

C. List of all drivers operating vehicles controlled by the applicant.

D. Liability insurance policy as provided in this chapter.

E. Vehicle inspection report approved by the Bellingham police department. [Ord. 10383, 1992].

6.54.060 Liability insurance.

A. Prior to the issuance of any taxicab or for-hire vehicle license, every applicant shall file with the finance department the policy or policies of public liability insurance, approved as to sufficiency by the finance department, issued by an insurance company or companies authorized to do business in the state of Washington, providing indemnity for or protection to the city, as well as providing public liability insurance coverage for each and every taxicab or for-hire vehicle owned, operated and/or leased by the applicant, for injury to or death of persons, passengers, or otherwise, in accidents resulting from any cause by which the owner of the vehicle would be liable on account of any liability imposed upon him by law, regardless of whether the taxicab or for-hire vehicle was being driven by the owner or his agent. Such insurance shall be in the sum of $100,000 for the injury or death of one person, or $300,000 for the injury or death of more than one person in any one accident, and $50,000 for property damage.

B. Every such policy of insurance shall continue to the full amount thereof notwithstanding any recovery thereon and shall provide that the liability of the insurer shall not be affected by the insolvency or bankruptcy of the insured. Each insurance policy required under this section shall extend for the period covered by the license applied for and the insurer shall be obliged to give not less than 10 days’ written notice to the finance department in the event of change or cancellation. [Ord. 10383, 1992].

6.54.070 Vehicle inspection.

A. Each vehicle to be used in conveying passengers shall be inspected and approved by the Bellingham police department. Inspection shall include:

1. Confirmation of current state vehicle license and registration.

2. Proof of liability insurance as required by this chapter.

3. Confirmation that each vehicle is equipped in accordance with state law and city ordinances and that all required equipment is in good working order.

4. Taxicabs shall be checked for an accurate taximeter; other vehicles are not subject to this requirement. It is unlawful for an owner or driver to operate a taxicab with an inaccurate taximeter. Violation shall constitute a misdemeanor as provided in BMC 6.54.190.

5. A schedule of fare rates shall be posted so it can be clearly read by passengers.

6. Any additional inspection regulations promulgated by the Bellingham police department. These regulations shall be reasonable and necessary to promote the health, safety and welfare of the general public. The items to be inspected shall be listed on a form to be provided by the Bellingham police department.

B. Upon satisfactory inspection, the Bellingham police department shall apply a Bellingham vehicle inspection sticker to the left rear window of the vehicle, and shall notify the finance department of vehicle approval.

C. Vehicles shall be inspected at least once a year at a time and place scheduled with the Bellingham police department. Annual inspections shall be scheduled during January each year by appointment with the Bellingham police department. Reinspections of vehicles that fail the annual inspection will be rescheduled by appointment during January or by appointment on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month thereafter.

D. Any additional or replacement vehicles must be inspected before being used as a taxicab or for-hire vehicle. Appointments for such inspections or any reinspection of such additional or replacement vehicles that may fail the initial inspection that may be necessary shall be scheduled by appointment with the Bellingham police department on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month.

E. It is unlawful for an owner or driver to operate a taxicab or for-hire vehicle without a current, valid, properly posted and clearly visible city of Bellingham inspection sticker. Violation shall constitute a misdemeanor as provided in BMC 6.54.190.

F. It is the responsibility of the owner to maintain all taxicabs or for-hire vehicles in compliance with the requirements of RCW Title 46; WAC Titles 204 and 308 and municipal vehicle ordinances at all times.

G. Vehicles are subject to inspection by the Bellingham police department upon verified complaint of a citizen, or on a police officer’s reasonable suspicion of violation of any state or municipal traffic or vehicle equipment law.

H. Failure to comply with state vehicle requirements of RCW Title 46; WAC Titles 204 and 308; and municipal vehicle ordinance requirements is cause for a vehicle to be suspended from use until compliance is met. To prove compliance, the vehicle must be reinspected by the Bellingham police department. [Ord. 2007-12-106; Ord. 10383, 1992].

6.54.080 Vehicle license fees.

A. The applicant shall pay a $35.00 inspection fee for each vehicle inspection conducted by the Bellingham police department, regardless of whether the vehicle passes inspection. Each reinspection of a vehicle that has failed an inspection shall require a $20.00 reinspection fee. The inspection fee does not apply to inspections based upon a citizen complaint or inspections based on a reasonable suspicion of an equipment or traffic law violation by a police officer, but does apply to reinspection to prove compliance following a finding of an equipment or safety violation during a citizen complaint or inspection based on a reasonable suspicion of an equipment or traffic law violation by a police officer.

B. The applicant shall pay a $20.00 license fee to the finance department for each vehicle licensed. [Ord. 2007-12-106; Ord. 10383, 1992].

6.54.090 Issuance of vehicle license.

The finance department shall issue a vehicle license upon satisfactory police department inspection, compliance with the insurance requirements of this chapter, and payment of the prescribed vehicle license fee. [Ord. 10383, 1992].

6.54.100 Driver’s license required – Expiration.

A. It is unlawful to drive a taxicab or for-hire vehicle without a current and valid Bellingham driver’s license as provided in this chapter.

B. It is unlawful for an owner of a taxicab or for-hire vehicle business to employ, subcontract a vehicle to, or otherwise permit a vehicle under their control to be operated by a driver who does not have a current and valid Bellingham driver’s license.

C. A driver’s license expires on December 31st of the year of issuance.

D. Application for a driver’s license must be made at least 30 days before expiration of the current driver’s license. Failure to make timely application shall result in a late penalty fee of $10.00. [Ord. 10383, 1992].

6.54.110 Driver’s license – Application contents.

A. Applicants for a driver’s license must file a written application on a form provided by the city of Bellingham. The application must be filed with the finance department, and must contain the following information:

1. Name, description, address, date of birth, and social security number of the applicant.

2. Name and address of last employer.

3. Signature of the applicant authorizing the police department to take fingerprints and conduct an investigation of the applicant.

4. The fingerprints of the applicant applying for the license.

B. Applicants for a driver’s license must show proof that they are over 18 years of age and have a current, valid Washington State driver’s license with any required endorsements. [Ord. 10383, 1992].

6.54.120 Driver’s license – Applicant investigation.

A. Upon receipt of a completed application for a driver’s license, the original shall be referred to the police department for investigation of the applicant. The investigation shall include review of any felony, misdemeanor, and traffic convictions which have occurred in the last 10 years.

B. Upon completion of investigation of the applicant, the police department shall make a recommendation of approval or disapproval to the finance department. Any recommendation of disapproval must be for good cause including, but not limited to, unsatisfactory criminal history of felony, misdemeanor, or traffic convictions that are directly related to fitness for a taxicab or for-hire vehicle driver’s license.

C. The police department recommendation for approval or disapproval shall be made to the finance department no later than five days from the date of application. [Ord. 10383, 1992].

6.54.130 Driver’s license – Fees.

A. The applicant shall pay a $35.00 fee to the Bellingham police department to cover the costs of the investigation.

B. Upon approval, the applicant shall pay a $20.00 license fee to the finance department. [Ord. 2007-12-106; Ord. 10383, 1992].

6.54.140 Issuance or denial of license.

The finance department shall issue a license upon a recommendation by the Bellingham police department to approve the licensee and payment of the prescribed license fees. In the event of police department disapproval, the finance department shall notify the applicant of the denial and the procedures for appeal pursuant to BMC 6.54.170. [Ord. 10383, 1992].

6.54.150 Revocation of driver’s license.

A driver’s license may be revoked by the finance department, upon recommendation of the police department, subject to appeal pursuant to BMC 6.54.170. Licenses may only be revoked for good cause including, but not limited to:

A. Fraud, misrepresentation, or false statement contained in the application for license.

B. Any felony or misdemeanor or traffic conviction directly related to fitness to drive a taxicab.

C. Any violations of the provisions of this chapter.

D. Three or more convictions for violations of BMC 11.33.175 within a one-year period. [Ord. 10410 § 4, 1993; Ord. 10383, 1992].

6.54.160 Transfer of license.

Licenses under this chapter are not transferable under any circumstances. [Ord. 10383, 1992].

6.54.170 Appeal procedure.

Any person aggrieved by denial or revocation of a license may file a notice of appeal with the hearing examiner within 14 days after the notice of denial has been mailed to the person’s last known address. The request must be in writing and must explain the grounds for appeal. [Ord. 2002-10-069 § 14; Ord. 10383, 1992].

6.54.180 Enforcement.

Any police officer may enforce the provisions of this chapter against any person found to be violating the same. Failure to produce a license shall constitute probable cause for enforcement action. [Ord. 10383, 1992].

6.54.190 Misdemeanor – Penalty.

Any person violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000 or imprisonment not to exceed 90 days, or both such fine and imprisonment. Each day upon which such violation shall occur or upon which such violation shall continue shall constitute a separate offense. [Ord. 2012-10-047 § 27; Ord. 10383, 1992].