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East Hampton Town to start fingerprinting cabdrivers, taxi owners

A law requiring all cabdrivers and taxi company owners in East Hampton Town to submit to fingerprinting to obtain an operating license will start being enforced in February, officials said.

“We want to be certain the public is well-served in a safe manner — it’s really about consumer protection,” Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc said in an interview last week.

Assistant town attorney NancyLynn Thiele said the fingerprinting requirement has always been part of East Hampton’s Taxicabs and Vehicles for Hire law, but it was not implemented because the language regarding fingerprinting did not adhere to what is required by the state Department of Criminal Justice Services.

Similar fingerprinting requirements for taxi licensing were also adopted this month in Southampton Town. In addition to passenger safety concerns, officials in both towns cited the need for strengthened regulations to help track price gouging, fraud and other problems.

Thiele said that now that East Hampton’s language has been changed in tax law approved by the town board on Dec. 15, fingerprinting can be started for all license applicants.

“It was just that the statute language didn’t meet the standards” set by the state, Thiele said Wednesday. “There were technical things that were not really substantive — like certain sections of law needed to be referenced.”

Thiele said the fingerprinting will be conducted through a Criminal Justices Services-approved vendor that has facilities in Southampton and Riverhead.

According to the amendment resolution, the town law was amended to also “establish an annual date for the expiration of all licenses and clarify language to carry out the original intention of the law.”

Thiele said licenses have to be renewed every year, but that amended law unifies terms for all licenses: starting on the first day of March and expiring on the last day of February.

“Everyone will now be on the same page,” Van Scoyoc said.

He said owners and drivers with licenses that were set to expire after February will be credited for any additional money they may have paid for subsequent months when they reapply and start their license term in March.

Other new requirements are that a taxi driver’s license be securely fastened on the visor of the driver’s side of the taxi and be clearly visible to the passenger when getting in and once inside the cab.

Drivers must provide the name of the taxi business they work for. Any licensed taxi company that no longer wishes to operate as such, or is no longer in compliance with the law, must return the issued business license to the town clerk within 72 hours.

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