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Cab Vomit Fee Passed in Chicago, $50 Per Upchuck

A cab vomit fee was instituted on July 1 in Chicago, so drivers can now be protected from the occasional passenger who is too sick or too intoxicated and throws up.

The cab vomit fee is a $50 cleanup charge that drivers can add extra to any cab fare of a passenger who hurls in the back seat. Previously, though some cabbies were compensated for their trouble, they could not demand extra monies for their trouble.

Now, though, cab drivers are happy their vomit tax has finally passed. They have been pressuring the city of Chicago since 2009 about the problem. Then, drivers could not even "unofficially" charge extra for the mess.

"No official fee can be imposed on a customer for throwing up in the cab," Dena Reed, general counsel for the District of Columbia Taxicab Commission, told the Huffington Post in 2009. "You can't unofficially do that, either."

Then, cab drivers had to deal with the vomit, which could easily cost them over $100. Cleaning the vomit thoroughly- often on a weekend night, the time cabbies make the most money- takes hours. Even then, many potential customers will pass up a cab if the inside smells vaguely like old bile.

The July 1 regulation, decided upon by the city in January, doesn't only regulate the vomit tax. In Chicago, drivers can no longer work longer than 12 hours, and they must also keep more detailed records of incidents on the road, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Not everyone is happy about the new law.

"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," wrote Some Dude on the Yahoo! News blog.

"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," agreed Vsp773 on the CBS Chicago blog.

Chicago isn't the only one with a vomit tax now. Since 2009, Austin, Texas and Savannah, Ga. have passed similar laws.

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