§ 47–2829. Vehicles for hire; identification tags on vehicles; vehicles for school children; ambulances, private vehicles for funeral purposes; issuance of licenses; payment of fees.
(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the District government shall not issue or reissue a license or permit to any applicant for a license or permit if the applicant:
(1) Owes the District more than $100 in outstanding fines, penalties, or interest assessed pursuant to the following acts or any regulations promulgated under the authority of the following acts, the:
(B) Illegal Dumping Enforcement Act of 1994, effective May 20, 1994 (D. C. Law 10-117; D.C. Official Code § 8-901 et seq.);
(2) Owes the District more than $100 in past due taxes;
(3) Owes fines assessed to car dealers pursuant to section 2(i) of the District of Columbia Revenue Act of 1937, approved August 17, 1937 (50 Stat. 680; D.C. Official Code § 50-1501.02(i));
(4) Owes parking fines or penalties assessed by another jurisdiction; provided, that a reciprocity agreement is in effect between the jurisdiction and the District; or
(5) Owes past due District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority service charges or fees.
(b) Any person, partnership, association, trust, or corporation operating or proposing to operate any vehicle or vehicles not confined to rails or tracks for the transportation of passengers for hire over all or any portion of any defined route or routes in the District of Columbia, shall, on or before the first day of October in each year, or before commencing such operation, submit to the Mayor, in triplicate, an application for license, stating therein the name of such person, partnership, association, trust, or corporation, the number and kind of each type of vehicle to be used in such operation, the schedule or schedules and the total number of vehicle miles to be operated with such vehicles within the District of Columbia during the 12-month period beginning with the first day of November in the same year; provided, that the provisions of this subsection shall not apply to companies operating both street railroad and bus services in the District of Columbia which pay taxes to the District of Columbia on their gross receipts; provided, that the provisions of this subsection shall not apply to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. The Mayor shall thereupon verify and approve, or return to the applicant for correction and resubmission, each such statement. Upon receipt of the approved copy, and prior to the first day of November in the same year, or before commencing such operation, each such applicant shall pay to the Collector of Taxes, in lieu of any other personal or license tax, in connection with such operation, the sum of $.01 for each vehicle mile proposed to be operated in the District of Columbia in accordance with the application as approved. Upon presentation of the receipt for such payment, the Mayor of the District of Columbia or his designated agent shall issue a license authorizing the applicant to carry on the operations embodied in the approved application. No increase of operations shall be commenced or continued unless and until an application similar to the original and covering such increase in operation shall have been approved and forwarded in the same manner and the corresponding additional payment made and license issued. No license shall be issued under the terms of this subsection without the approval of the Mayor.
(d) Owners of taxicabs shall pay an annual license tax of an amount set by the Department of For-Hire Vehicles for each taxicab which is to be operated in the District. The Department of For-Hire Vehicles is authorized to make all reasonable and usual regulations for the control of taxicabs, and the Mayor shall make and enforce all reasonable and usual regulations he or she may consider necessary for vehicles licensed under the preceding subsections and § 47-2831.
(e)(1) No person shall engage in driving or operating any vehicle licensed under the terms of subsection (d) of this section without having procured from the Mayor of the District of Columbia a license which shall not be issued except upon evidence satisfactory to the Mayor of the District of Columbia that the applicant is a person of good moral character and is qualified to operate the vehicle, and upon payment of an annual license fee of an amount set by the Mayor. The license shall be displayed within the vehicle at all times while the licensee is engaged in driving any vehicle licensed under the terms of subsection (d) of this section. Application for the license shall be made in the form as shall be prescribed by the Mayor of the District of Columbia. No license issued under the provisions of this subsection shall be assigned or transferred. All operators of taxicabs shall first procure from the Department of For-Hire Vehicles a license to operate a taxicab, which license shall be personal and nontransferable, upon payment of an annual license fee of an amount set by the Mayor. The Department of For-Hire Vehicles may issue a license of less than 1 year to operate a taxicab.
(2) Upon March 15, 1985, the following additional licensing requirements shall apply to all persons who apply for a license to operate any public vehicle-for-hire licensed under the terms of subsections (d) and (h) of this section:
(A) Completion of the primary public passenger vehicle-for-hire license training course as established by the Department of For-Hire Vehicles for a fee of no less than $100 per person. Upon completion of the course, the applicant shall be issued a certificate of completion that shall include the date of completion and shall be presented to the Office of Client Services of the Department of For-Hire Vehicles with the application for a license. Before issuing the certificate, each person shall have passed an examination consisting of the subject matters taught in the course and an evaluation of the person’s English communication skills. At a minimum, the training course and any refresher course provided by the Department of For-Hire Vehicles shall be designed to develop the applicant’s knowledge of the following:
(i) The geography of the District, with particular emphasis on major streets throughout the District, significant government buildings, attractions, and tourist sites, and historical knowledge of the District;
(ii) District laws and regulations governing the taxicab industry and the penalties for violating these laws and regulations;
(iii) District traffic laws and regulations and the penalties for violating these laws and regulations, including:
(I) The rights and duties of motorists, which include not blocking the crosswalk or intersection, and not driving or stopping in a bicycle lane;
(II) The rights and duties of pedestrians; and
(III) The rights and duties of bicyclists.
(iv) Public relations skills, including cultural awareness and sensitivity training, appropriate social customs and courtesies that should be extended to the public, conflict resolution, and knowledge of the hospitality industry;
(v) Small business practices, including methods of accounting and manifest maintenance, fare computations for intra-District trips and interstate trips, and general management principles;
(vi) Driving skills and knowledge of the rules of the road; and
(vii) The legal requirements that apply to transportation of persons with disabilities, including providing equal access to transportation and complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, approved July 26, 1990 (104 Stat. 328; 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.) (“ADA”).
(A-i) All courses for operators of wheelchair-accessible taxicabs shall provide training as to:
(i) The legal requirements that apply to transportation of persons with disabilities, including providing equal access to transportation and complying with the ADA;
(ii) Passenger assistance techniques, including a review of various disabilities, hands-on demonstrations of how to assist those with disabilities, mobility equipment training (including familiarity with lift and ramp operations and various types of wheelchairs and personal mobility devices), and safety procedures;
(iii) Training with an actual person using a wheelchair or personal mobility device;
(iv) Sensitivity training, including customer service and conflict resolution techniques; and
(v) Overall training in passenger relations and courtesy.
(B) Completion of an examination which shall consist of a minimum of 60 questions, the passing grade of which shall be 70% answered correctly, which shall, at a minimum, test:
(i) The applicant’s fitness for licensure based upon knowledge of the location of addresses, significant government buildings, and tourist sites, and an understanding of the Capital City Plan;
(ii) The applicant’s fitness for licensure based upon the areas covered in the hacker’s license training course, exclusive of geography;
(iii) The applicant’s knowledge of the District, through a minimum of 5 written questions, which shall require the applicant to state the route to arrive at a destination from a particular location; and
(iv) Selected areas, through a minimum of 5 oral questions, covered in the hacker’s license training course, exclusive of geography, and the applicant’s ability to communicate in English.
(C) Each applicant may repeat the examination no more than 3 times. Upon the third failure, an applicant must repeat the hacker’s license training course and present a new certificate of completion before being allowed to take the examination again. The Office of Client Services of the Department of For-Hire Vehicles, shall construct a pool of no fewer than 300 questions from which questions shall be drawn for each examination that is administered. This pool shall be prohibited from public dissemination and shall be substantially revised at a minimum of every 2 years to protect the integrity of the examination.
(D) Upon passage of the examination, each applicant has 90 days in which to complete the application process for licensure. After 90 days, the passing score from the prior examination is no longer valid for licensure, and the applicant must repeat the license training course, present a new certificate of completion, and retake the examination.
(e-1) The Department of For-Hire Vehicles may develop procedures to evaluate the record of a taxicab operator’s license under the terms of subsection (e) of this section, and the owners of taxicabs licensed under the terms of this subsection. The record maintained by the Office of Client Services of the Department of For-Hire Vehicles for each licensee shall contain any violations associated with the license upon the final determination of liability by any governmental body charged with adjudicating violations. Any procedure shall clearly state the grounds for suspension or revocation of a license. If the license of a person licensed pursuant to subsection (e) of this section is revoked, the person must complete the requirements contained in subsections (e)(2)(A) and (B) of this section before the person may receive a new license. If the license of a person licensed pursuant to subsection (e) of this section is suspended, the licensee must complete the requirements contained in subsection (e)(2)(A) of this section and present to the Department of For-Hire Vehicles the certificate of completion of the required course before reinstatement.
(e-2) The Department of For-Hire Vehicles shall make the following information available for public inspection: The name of each person licensed under the terms of subsections (c) and (d) of this section; the licensee’s annual license number; the name of the association, corporation, or organization that maintains the lease or membership agreement with the licensee; any monetary fine, suspension, or revocation action taken against the licensee; where applicable, a certificate of completion by the licensee of the training course established pursuant to subsection (e-1) of this section; a record of any criminal conviction of the licensee within the last 3 years; and, any points assessed against the licensee’s District of Columbia operators permit. The records shall be cross-referenced to the association, corporation, or organization.
(e-3) The Department of For-Hire Vehicles may issue rules to implement the provisions of subsections (e) through (e-2) of this section pursuant to subchapter I of Chapter 5 of Title 2.
(e-4) The Department of For-Hire Vehicles shall, by regular mail and within 5 business days of a final decision of suspension, revocation, or non-renewal of a taxicab operator license, notify the association, corporation, organization, or person that maintains a taxicab lease or taxicab association or company membership agreement with the operator that the operator’s privilege to operate a taxicab in the District of Columbia has been suspended, revoked, or not renewed. The association, corporation, organization, or person that maintains a lease with the operator shall upon receipt of the notice terminate any lease agreement, written or otherwise, with the operator, and shall take reasonable steps to assure the return to the owner of any vehicle leased to the operator. The Department of For-Hire Vehicles shall promulgate regulations to carry out the purposes of this subsection.
(f) All vehicles licensed under this section shall bear such identification tags as the Council of the District of Columbia may from time to time direct; and nothing herein contained shall exempt such vehicles from compliance with the traffic and motor vehicle regulations of the District of Columbia.
(g) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to require the procuring of a license, or the payment of a tax, with respect to a vehicle owned or operated by a state or local government or a subdivision or instrumentality thereof which is being used to transport school children, their teachers, or escorts to the District of Columbia from the state in which their school is located.
(h) Except as otherwise provided in subsections (d) and (e) of this section, owners of motor vehicles for hire used for any purpose, including, but not limited to, owners of ambulances for hire, and owners of passenger vehicles which, when used for hire, are used exclusively for funeral purposes, and, owners of passenger vehicles used exclusively for contract livery services for which the rate is fixed solely by the hour, and owners of passenger vehicles for hire used for sightseeing purposes shall pay a license tax of an amount set by the Mayor for each vehicle having a seating capacity of 12 or less passengers exclusive of the driver used in the conduct of their business. License endorsements requested by this subsection, excluding that of ambulances, shall be issued by the Department of Public Works. Licenses requested by this subchapter for ambulances shall be issued by the Department of Health as an Inspected Sales and Services endorsement to a basic business license under the basic business license system as set forth in subchapter I-A of this chapter.
(i) No person shall engage in driving or operating any vehicle licensed under the terms of subsection (h) of this section without having procured from the Mayor of the District of Columbia or his designated agent a license which shall only be issued upon evidence satisfactory to the Mayor of the District of Columbia, that the applicant is a person of good moral character and is qualified to operate such vehicle, and upon payment of an annual license fee of an amount set by the Mayor. Such license shall be carried upon the person of the licensee or in the vehicle while engaged in driving such vehicle when such vehicle is being used for hire. Application for such license shall be made in such form as shall be prescribed by the Mayor of the District of Columbia. Each annual license issued under the provisions of this paragraph shall be numbered, and there shall be kept in the Office of Client Services of the Department of For-Hire Vehicles a record containing the name of each person so licensed, his annual license number and all matters affecting his qualifications to be licensed hereunder. No license issued under the provisions of this subsection shall be assigned or transferred.
(j)(1) The Department of For-Hire Vehicles may establish, by rulemaking, limits on the number of operator’s licenses or vehicle licenses that the agency issues; provided, that the Department of For-Hire Vehicles shall not establish limits without first making a determination that the limits are in the public interest and do not unduly and significantly harm the taxicab industry in the District.
(2) Proposed rules under paragraph (1) of this subsection shall be submitted to the Council for a 60-day review period, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, legal holidays, and days of Council recess. If the Council does not approve or disapprove the proposed rules by resolution within this 60-day review period, the proposed rules shall be deemed approved.
(4) The Department of For-Hire Vehicles shall create a single public vehicle-for-hire driver’s license that entitles the holder to operate any public vehicle-for-hire, including a taxicab, limousine, sedan-class vehicle, and other classes of public vehicles for hire. This license shall be granted by the Department of For-Hire Vehicles through a single course, examination, and licensure application process.
(5) The Department of For-Hire Vehicles shall seek to actively license public vehicle-for hire drivers and vehicles.
(k) A person who resides in the District of Columbia, the State of Maryland, or the Commonwealth of Virginia shall be eligible to apply for an operator and vehicle license to operate a public vehicle-for-hire.