PHOENIX — Since he began driving a taxi here 17 years ago, Shah Muhsin said firms employing him as a contractor have required him to get drug tests.
That’s why he supports a state law taking effect Friday requiring all taxi and limousine drivers to be drug- tested when hired or engaged as contractors and to be tested every year after that.
“It’s better to be safe. It’s really important,” Muhsin said as he waited for a fare at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.
Shawn Marquez, director of compliance programs at the Department of Weights and Measures, which pressed for the law, said the change enhances public safety.
“It brings in accountability that we didn’t have before,” he said.
Marquez said his department is responsible for regulating between 14,000 and 17,000 taxi, limousine and livery drivers around the state, ensuring that they have driver’s licenses, commercial insurance and vehicle maintenance records.
Craig Hughes, founder and CEO of Total Transit, parent company of Discount Cab, said the public expects oversight of taxi service.
“Because of the nature of the cab business in Arizona — compared to a lot of other places, we’re deregulated — some of those safeguards weren’t in place,” he said. “This helps fill in some of that void.”
Hughes said Total Transit voluntarily conducted nearly 3,000 drug tests in 2012 at a cost of more than $142,000. It has been drug-testing drivers since 2008, according to a spokeswoman.
Hughes said his company’s drug-free policy has helped improve the quality of applicants.
“The more we do it, the less and less we have anybody that comes up dirty,” he said. “Everybody knows they’re gonna get tested. To me, it’s really helped our workforce.”
The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Arizona opposed the measure. Anjali Abraham, public policy director, said that the ACLU of Arizona has found in the past that such laws are ineffective, invade employees’ privacy and lack a process to appeal false positives.
“We’re generally concerned by drug-testing laws,” Abraham said. “They don’t solve the existing problem; they just add to the problem at significant expense.”
Marquez, with Weights and Measures, estimated that a standard urinalysis test would cost between $25 and $55.
“The peace of mind, though, I don’t really think you can put a price to,” Marquez said. “Look at the city of Phoenix, their city bus drivers. They’re all drug-tested. Imagine if they weren’t — the liability would be too great. It would be too great for the city, too great for the state. We deserve, as citizens here, more than that.”
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets