Three Charleston carriage operators say they will continue to require their drivers to pass the city's tour-guide test even though the city can’t require a license anymore.
A number of other tour operators have the same plan.
"It is imperative that we preserve the quality of tourism in Charleston," Palmetto Carriage Works general manager Tommy Doyle said in an announcement on behalf of the Carriage Association for Responsible Equine Safety, which also includes Charleston Carriage Works and Old South Carriage Co.
"While the recent court ruling may prevent the city from requiring tour guides to pass a test, we will continue to uphold the highest possible standards for our guides by requiring them to pass a test and be licensed. Charleston deserves that," he said.
A federal judge ruled on Friday that Charleston's requirement that paid tour guides pass a test for a license was an unconstitutional burden on free speech. The city suspended its licensing requirement and will ask U.S. District Judge David Norton to reconsider.
The city won't issue licenses but will continue to offer the tests and verify the results, according to city spokesman Jack O'Toole.
Meanwhile, a number of other tour-guide companies are also planning to continue to require guides pass the city's test. That includes Bulldog Tours, which employs about 50 guides in the summer. Owner John LaVerne said he has talked to the owners of several other companies who are planning to do the same thing.
"Charleston being what it is, I think it's crucial that we keep the quality of our tours," LaVerne said.
Charleston's 200-question test is based on a nearly 500-page manual written by the Historic Charleston Foundation. There's no guarantee that guides won't make up stories of their own after passing the test, as some witnesses testified during the court hearings, but it's meant to ensure they have some basic knowledge of the city's history and architecture.