New background checks could soon be required of taxi drivers in N. Chs

NORTH CHARLESTON (WCSC) - Taxicab drivers may soon have to pass nationwide background checks if they want to drive in North Charleston.

City leaders moved this request forward in a meeting Thursday night.

Now, it will go to North Charleston City Council for a first reading in December.

Right now, North Charleston taxi drivers are required to pass a state background check, or SLED report. They're not required to pass a nationwide check.

To drivers like Mike McGinis, this request is a move in the right direction.

"If somebody is in my backseat, they're trusting that I'm going to do the right thing," said McGinis.

McGinis has driven a taxi with Yellow Cab Co. in North Charleston for almost 15 years.

"To me, it's a noble profession," said McGinis "Some people look down on cab drivers. I'm proud of what I do."

McGinis feels nationwide checks would ensure the safety of passengers. He feels they have a right to know they're in good hands.

That's the exact reason Patrick Pontieri, compliance officer with North Charleston, felt this request should be made.

"What we got is a lot of folks coming in from out of state," said Pontieri. "They're giving me the SLED report that we require. But, it doesn't show anything from the state they're coming from."

Pontieri oversees taxicab operations in North Charleston.

He said, if this request is approved by City Council, drivers will be required to pass a nationwide background check, which would include the state check.

There would not be an additional fee.

Every two years, drivers have to get new background checks.

Current drivers would get the expanded check when they it's time to renew.

All new drivers would be required to get checks when they apply.

"South Carolina is good, but we don't have the other states," said Pontieri. "We want the whole picture. We want to make sure everybody has a safe ride."

In the years McGinis has been behind the wheel, he's seen a lot changes.

Just six years ago, the state checks were adopted.

Before that, city and county checks were required.

"This is just a continuation, or improvement, over what's already there," said McGinis.

He said, it's another reason he'll continue driving his yellow cab in North Charleston.

"Until I retire, I don't intend on doing anything else," said McGinis.

The City of Charleston requires state background checks, or SLED reports.
Uber requires nationwide background checks.

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