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Chicago Cab Vomit Penalty: Where Do You Stand?

chicago cab vomit penalty

I briefly mentioned the Chicago cab ‘vomit tax’in an article yesterday about ‘quirky’ new laws, but in case you missed it, here’s the gist: starting July 1, Chicago cabbies can slap a $50 ‘cleanup fee’ on the fare of any passenger who hurls in their cab.

Cab drivers in the city have been pushing for this since 2009, though as I also wrote yesterday, I didn’t even consider this a ‘quirky’ law: cab drivers in my native Britain have been able to charge cleanup costs for years now.

However, a good chunk of Internet commenters seem to think this is an OUTRAGE.

Well, I disagree. I think it’s perfectly fair. And I speak on this matter from a position of, er, semi-authority. My Dad cabbed in a northern UK town for going on 12 years, and I genuinely lost count of the number of times some numbskull chundered in his vehicle. a.k.a. his livelihood. Every time it happened – often at a peak time for cabs and mindless drinking, such as Friday evenings – the taxi would have to be pulled from the road, sometimes for hours at a time. It would often result in a loss which ran well into three figures. And obviously, it wasn’t exactly pleasant to clean up (yes, I did it once or thrice).

This, however, is unlikely to quell many commenters: commenters like Vsp773 at CBS Chicago:

“Always a new fee or tax for something in Chicago…..its going downhill with punishing the ones who live in the city. Maybe its time to move and stop letting others take money out of our pockets….Chicago used to be fun”

I hear you, Vsp. Chicago used to be FUN. All that non-stop, all-night hurling in cabs. Wild times. Why the hell should The Man want to punish us for a bit of innocent chundering? Anyway, fellow CBSer tom sharp foresees other problems:

Good luck getting your money when a couple of 63 drunks heave in your cab and you’re a 5’6″ Hispanic! Unless these guys go “home” on the ride you have no chance of collecting without fist fight.

Leaving aside the charmless racial stereotyping, this was never actually a problem in my father’s experience. When people have just barfed, they’re not usually in fisticuffs mood. More Want-To-Crawl-Into-And-Subsequently-Die-In-Bed mode. Not that it’s even relevant, mind. Over at Yahoo!, meanwhile, Some Dude thinks cabbies should just deal with it:

“I agree with every part except their vomit fee. It’s unfortunately a hazard of the job, and has been happening since cabs were invented.”

YEAH. Just part of the job, innit. You pay for a cab, you get the right to say where you go, when you go there, and also to splutter up half-digested kebab across somebody’s car interior. It’s like, a right or something.

Fortunately, a little more common sense seems to reign over at Huff Post. Take it away, Jai Hro:

“That’s reasonable and its actually cost more that $50 bucks.”

And finally, former cabbie Stan Schulz (a man more informed on this than the majority of commenters by default):

“As a retired Chicago cabbie, this tax is a good thing.Since I mostly drove nights and dealt with a lot of drunks, I had to clean up passengers vomit many times.. you have to get the smell out of your cab immediately or other people will refuse to get in the car.”

Where do you stand in the great cab vomit penalty debate, readers?

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Comments

22 Responses to “Chicago Cab Vomit Penalty: Where Do You Stand?”

  1. Demetri Andrianis

    I think the city of New York should introduce something similar, people need to exhibit self control, the back seat of a yellow cab is not a toilet.

  2. Faith Frisby-Petrusevski

    I have been driving taxi in Chicago for almost 12 years and people vomiting in the back of my cab became such a problem that I no longer work Saturday nights when you get most of the drunk people. The last time someone vomited in my cab it took me an hour and half to clean it. It was on the floor, the door, cup holder, everywhere.

  3. Hilary England

    I agree with this fine. Personally, if you are drunk and puke in someone's cab, you deserve it. If you are just really sick, and it happens, oh well, the cab driver still has to deal with it, circumstances of why it happened are irrelevant. It will be a good initiative to make sure you either don't get that besotted that you puke in public, or stay in bed if you are that sick. The cab drivers have enough to deal with than people who can't control their bodily functions.

  4. Cary Dunn

    I completely agree with this. If that person that hurled in a cab had a friend hurl in their personal car they would expect their friend to either clean it up or pay to clean it up. The drivers lose money when this happens and should be compensated, maybe now drunks will have enough sense to ask the cab driver to pull over so they can hurl outside the cab.

  5. Jason Schapiro

    It doesn't discourage drunks to take cabs. Drunks aren't standing outside of a bar thinking, "I'm going to puke, better drive myself and puke in my own car to avoid the $50 fee!"

  6. Carolyn Johnson

    I AGREE WITH IT HOPE IT GOES TO EVERY STATE AND RESTERANTS ANY WHERE UNLESS MEDICAL I HAVE SEEN PARENTS A BUFFETS LET AND MAKE THIER KIDS EAT UNTILL THEY ARE SO FULL THEY VOMIT I THINK THE PARENTS SHOULD CLEAN IT UP NOT WORKERS THAT ARE PREPARING OUR FOOD OR CLEARING TABLES OR HELPING OTHER CUSTOMERS THEY CAN'T SHOWER OR CHANGE CLEAN UP YOUR IN MESS OR IF SOMEONE IS WILLING 50.00 IS NOTHIG IF YOU CAN AFFORD A CAB OR OUT TO EAT THEY YOU PAY.

  7. Allan Eggers

    I really feel for taxi drivers everywhere. I can only imagine haow bad it is hauling those after hour drunks on friday and saturday nights.

  8. Anonymous

    Well, the way cab drivers drive sometimes and the long routes they take you is enough to make you sick. Seems like it should take maybe 30 minutes to get you from point A to point B, some cab drivers will probably go 10 miles in every other direction, then you get to see what they will charge you…*PUKE*…nevemind, I'll walk it.

  9. Anonymous

    I think this is a good idea. This is coming from someone who has actually done this once (friend's wedding night). From an empathetic stance this fee seems totally fare (no pun intended). Now, getting the super drunk person to give up the $50 is a whole other ball game.

  10. Pifenius Jacubs

    this is a huge problem with america. forget the bill of rights, I want the right to vomit anywhere I choose. it's my right to buy a cheeseburger, I don't care if the place is closed.

  11. Sharrie Faulkner

    A while back it cost me $70.00 to clean vomit out of my car. If anything they should charge people more than $ 50.00. And they should give the cab drivers the right to refuse to give a drunk a ride.

  12. Joe Maron

    I am not opposed to this fee, but wouldn't it be better for everyone all around to just supply cabs with barf bags? Am I missing something?

  13. Chris Strunk

    Im kind of up in the air about his law. Where i think it fair for the cab driver (although im sure the cab company would reap the rewards) for having to clean his cab after some drunk left his stomach contents all over his back seat. I aalso think it would deter drunks from taking a cab no matter how plastered they may be. Getting behind the wheel of their own cars and killing people

  14. Patsy Elephantlover

    I am a die hard liberal, but think it should be upped to $75! I would not want to try to clean it, as once I see or smell it, I upchuck (children always had to clean their own). My heart goes out to anyone who has to not only clean it up, but lose wages as well. How are they going to collect, especially when you are dealing with drunks that are racist and mean?

  15. Hilary England

    Nah, like one of the editors of the Post pointed out–no one ever thinks of that when they are drunk– people are first and foremost just afraid of getting arrested, and no one ever thinks they are going to hurl until right before they do, so this would not cause a rash of "cab avoidance." Nope, in the end, I think it's a good idea. If you destroy someone's property, you should pay for it, even if it's just destruction in a gross form, like from your bodily functions.