Police crackdown concerns Amish community

This may be as close as it gets to widespread lawlessness involving the Amish community.

"I wasn't sure that they even regulated Amish taxi services,” said Amy Howard, of a company called Rural Taxi.

While the Amish are traditionally known for traveling by horse and buggy, that’s not their only method of going places.

“Some horses and buggies can only travel 30-miles round trip a day,” said Howard.

Howard said her typical run at Rural Taxi involves taking “five or six (Amish) families at a time” to Wal-Mart.

But there is no such thing as ‘typical’ lately. Howard was among the taxi drivers recently ticketed by an Indiana State Police crackdown on Amish taxis.

“They (the Amish) are distraught over this because they're having a hard time finding drivers if they want to go somewhere,” said Maynard Graber, who has provided Amish taxi services for 10-years. “The ones (taxis) that are not compliant are scared to go out…afraid of being ticketed.”

A meeting on the subject today in Shipshewana drew a standing room only crowd of 300-plus concerned citizens.

“Since the first of the year they've only made I think eight stops, eight inspections,” said Indiana State Senator Robert Meeks, a Republican from Lagrange. Meeks added that police have made arrests in those inspections.

The enforcement efforts apparently often left the Amish passengers stranded at the scene of the citation.

Now the Indiana State Police have decided to pull in the reigns. The Superintendent has authorized a moratorium on their Amish taxi enforcement efforts.

“We're going to give these folks a chance, we're going to give them 45-days to try and get everybody in
in get their ducks in a row so to speak,” said Sgt. Rodger Popplewell. The drivers have until the first of June to obtain the proper permits and licenses required by state law.

Some drivers say they weren’t even aware of some of the rules now being enforced by the state police.

While it appears the rules have been on the books for years, it appears that they haven’t been strictly enforced.

The driver of a 9-to-15 passenger van must have a chauffer’s license and a state business license.

They must also have a federal DOT number, and carry $1.5 million in liability insurance coverage.

Maynard Graber has been driving his Amish taxi for 10-years, although he wonders if he can afford to comply with the rules.

“I don't have the $3,000 dollars or more because our insurance is jumping from $1,000 a year, to $3,000 a year,” said Graber.

Graber said he receives disability payments and sees the taxi work as a part time job that helps support his family.


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