MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Uber drivers continue to be cited for not having all the required licenses to operate in Myrtle Beach.
Representatives with the city of Myrtle Beach, since July 2014, have said Uber is not allowed in the city. From the start, if you were to open the app and request a driver, one would be picking you up in no time. But the city's policy has recently changed.
If a driver gets the right licenses, Uber is now perfectly legal in the city of Myrtle Beach. What's important is that the city will in fact give you one of those licenses if you apply and have all the right paperwork. Lt. Joey Crosby with the Myrtle Beach Police Department says this changed sometime in mid-February. Since then, Myrtle Beach has issued one business license to an individual to operate as an Uber driver.
The Uber battle has been raging since July when the ride-sharing service announced it would start picking up riders in Myrtle Beach and a few other South Carolina cities. Governor Nikki Haley says it is legal in the Palmetto State. But last summer, Mark Kruea, the spokesperson for the city of Myrtle Beach, first stated that it is not legal within city limits to operate as an Uber driver, because the company did not have the necessary licenses and certificates within the city.
That all changed sometime in February 2015. "As long as the business has a business license and then the operator has a valid chauffeur's permit, then they're allowed to operate as an Uber driver and an Uber business within the city limits of Myrtle Beach," says Crosby.
Be warned, if you don't get the right licenses, you're still liable for some hefty fines. This was proven by the two recent citations from Monday night. Police responded to a parking lot at Broadway at the Beach after a caller reported two drivers were operating illegally. Both drivers did not have the proper licenses to work as Uber drivers and were cited. Each citation holds a fine of $1,092.
One of the two drivers was also arrested, because when MBPD officers ran his license it showed an active warrant for breach of trust. Andrew Masotta was issued a courtesy summons for not having a business license. On Tuesday at his hearing, Masotta told the judge that he believed his insurance and signing up through Uber covered any necessary licenses. That's still up for debate between the city and the company.
What really got some people talking was the fact that the driver was arrested for an active warrant. Police say the warrant was for breach of trust, but during the hearing Tuesday, Masotta's representation told the judge that in fact the warrant was from back in January 2014 and it was rectified within 24 hours. The judge set two separate court dates for the two issues.
Uber prides itself on doing background checks on every driver and providing detailed information to riders before they even get into a car. Kaitlin Durkosh, with Uber Technologies Inc., provided this statement:
"This driver has been deactivated from the Uber platform pending the final outcome of his arrest."
Uber spokesperson Taylor Bennett says the company fully supports their drivers, and Uber will cover any costs when the drivers are unjustly cited by law enforcement. Nothing has been decided in Masotta's case.
If you are looking to get the correct paperwork to operate as an Uber driver in Myrtle Beach, you need a chauffeur's permit and a business license. For that permit, you need to go to the police department where you'll get an application. Fill that out, then bring that back to the police Annex with validation of 10-year's driver history and a criminal's record check. That record check will cost $25 from SLED. Once you turn all that in, the chief of police will go over everything and determine if you can get a permit.
Once you get that permit, you'll head to city hall to put in an official application for a business license and then pay an application fee. That fee is based on an estimate of how much you'll make and whether you're located inside or outside city limits. Inside city limits, the fee starts at $145. Outside city limits, it starts at $220. After paying that, the city will then look over your paperwork to determine if you can get a license. Keep in mind, paying that fee does not necessarily mean you will be approved, but it will be refunded if the license cannot be issued.