Austin Cab Drivers Can Now Charge A $100 Puke Tax

taxi cabs Austin vomit chargeAustin cab drivers just lucked into another revenue stream: the puke tax.

As of Thursday, cab drivers in the Texas capital will be able to charge passengers who regurgitate on their upholstery up to $100 extra. The new fee will be posted in a sign in every cab.

"It takes me like a couple of hours," local cab driver Joseph Ngaleu told a San Antonio TV station, "because when I clean it my car needs to be dry."

The Austin City Council passed the measure three weeks ago. It also stipulates a $1 surcharge on all rides after 9 p.m., all in an attempt to get more of the city's 675 cabs on the roads at night.

Some local students aren't too pleased about the new policy. "The fee increase mostly affects the student population, who often take cabs during these peak hours," Hannah Lapin, a University of Texas at Austin sophomore, wrote in her university paper. "Between tuition, textbooks, housing and food expenses, college students do not have a lot of discretionary income."

But the policy may have a happy side effect: 18.4 percent of residents in Austin area admitted to binge drinking -- five drinks or more on one occasion for men, and four or more for women. That puts Austin among the top 25 metropolitan areas in the U.S. for binge drinking, out of the almost 200 surveyed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2010. The risk of a $100 gross-out fine may very well deter reveling Austinites from having that last beer.

Austin's high drinking rates may be because it's home to the University of Texas at Austin, one of the largest bastions of higher learning in the country. Or perhaps it's due to the mass migration of young people. According to the Brookings Institution, more 25-to-34 year olds moved to Austin between 2007 and 2009 than to any other city in the country. Or maybe it's the city's unofficial motto, "Keep Austin Weird," which makes it the perfect setting for the South By Southwest festival, and movies like Richard Linklater's iconic ode to Gen X alienation, "Slacker."

The opening sequence of the movie actually features an Austin cab driver, who drives silently as Linklater rambles for 15 minutes about a dream he just had. If the real cab drivers of this city have to put up with that kind of stuff on a regular basis, they probably deserve the extra $100 here and there.

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I didn't know that Austin can charge a $100 fine/tax on someone "puking" in the cab. I know that it doesn't seem like a fun thing to have to clean. Maybe they could include some complimentary bags like they do on the airplanes. Austin is certainly an interesting place to visit.

April 22 2014 at 11:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

That is very interesting that they can charge a puke fee, but it is understandable. If I am understanding this right that a lot of people have done this for them to make it something legal for them to do. It is very interesting to read about this kind of stuff. So thank you for sharing this information.
Jak Manson |

March 26 2014 at 6:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

That's interesting, it makes sense. Sure maybe the person didn't decide to puke, but that's quite a hit on the driver, you're puking on his job! He's gotta clean all that up so he can continue working. I say it's a good call.

Jim |

January 31 2014 at 6:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am trying to look for more information about cab drivers. Keep up the great work!

January 20 2014 at 12:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bryan Flake

Remind me never to puke in a taxi. Holy wow!


January 20 2014 at 12:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think that's such a good idea! When I worked at , I saw way too many rotten teeth burned from stomach acid. I can't believe so many people get drunk enough to puke every time. It's disgusting!

January 06 2014 at 11:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

While I understand why this tax and almost support it, the $1 surcharge for rides after 9 PM is wrong! While I realize $1 isn't very much money, I believe it will stifle decisions to take a taxi home after a few drinks because of the increased costs. Yes, I realize that if you can't afford to drink, don't. But I'm just saying that people have many excuses of why they chose to drive instead of taking a taxi home and I believe this will just give some of them bozos another excuse! Puke "tax" almost the same argument. However I understand that the driver must take his cab out of service (most of the are independent operators and must split fares with a dispatcher company). That isn't fair if they have to spend all that time off road to clean their cars. But again, I think it will deter some drunken idiots to attempt to drive instead of taking a cab. What's the answer? I'm not sure.

March 16 2012 at 12:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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