Taxicab drivers face violence at drive-thru liquor stores

Tyler Clarke
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Checker Taxi’s downtown office is seen -- A stone’s throw from a drive-through liquor store. Checker Taxi owner Russ McCloy said that he would happily welcome a ban on taxicabs using drive through liquor stores. 

A few recent attacks against taxicab drivers have spurred the city into action.

After meeting with taxicab drivers who asked to remain anonymous, Mayor Greg Dionne has concluded that the problem is with taxicabs’ ability to use the drive-thru option available at some city liquor stores.

“This is exactly what happened -- they’re sitting in the back seat, (the cab driver) said he knew they looked young, the guy in the back seat said, ‘Here’s $50, buy us beer,’” Dionne relayed.

Adults who have been prohibited from purchasing alcohol have also been using taxicab drivers as their in-between, since taxicab drivers don’t have the same resources that liquor stores have when it comes to identifying prohibited persons.

“We had another incident where the cab driver knew the person in the back seat was prohibited (from buying alcohol) and wouldn’t take him through.”

The taxicab driver managed to shoo off the underage passengers with minimal incident. He lost out on the fare, but was spared a violent confrontation.

The passenger who was prohibited from purchasing alcohol punched the taxicab driver after the driver refused to use the drive-thru.

Dionne said that he’s already briefed council on this issue and plans on bringing forward a bylaw that will ban taxicabs from using drive-thru liquor stores.

“I think it’s a fantastic idea,” Checker Taxi owner Russ McCloy said of the proposed bylaw.

This is exactly what happened -- They’re sitting in the back seat, (the cab driver) said he knew they looked young, the guy in the back seat said, ‘Here’s $50, buy us beer.' Greg Dionne

“I support it whole-heartedly … I was opposed to the drive-thru (liquor option) when they first put them in.”

By putting a blanket ban on taxicabs using the drive-thru option at liquor stores, the city is taking the onus off of the drivers and cab companies, McCloy said.

As it currently stands, if one cab company refuses to help a prohibited or underage person to get alcohol, they’ll simply find a cab company that will.

If everyone is banned, the problem should go away, McCloy concluded.

“What they’re looking for is an out,” Dionne said. “Well, if I have to be that channel as an out, I’ll be that out.”

Taxicabs would be equipped with stickers that drivers can point to that will let passengers know it’s illegal for their vehicle to be seen using the drive-thru.

If passengers want alcohol, they can get out of the taxicab and purchase it themselves, Dionne reasoned, adding that the bylaw’s intent will be to prevent taxicab drivers from being pressured or threatened into becoming bootleggers.

This issue has yet to come before the city’s elected officials in a formal city council setting, but the Daily Herald will be there for a report when it does. 

Organizations: Daily Herald

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