On Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office announced significant changes to the limousine industry, including an outright ban on stretch limousines.
The Governor’s office says the laws are a direct result to the October 2018 crash that killed 20 people in Schoharie.
“This crash was a horrific tragedy that shocked this state to its very core,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are advancing reforms that will give aggressive new powers that will allow authorities to take dangerous vehicles off the roads without delay, hold unscrupulous businesses accountable and increase public safety in every corner of New York.”
The operator of Prestige Limousine, near Albany, is charged with criminally negligent homicide for renting a stretch limousine, with a history of two failed state inspections, to a group celebrating a birthday.
All 18 people inside and two people outside were killed the vehicle failed to stop at a dangerous intersection.
Regulations proposed by Governor Cuomo:
- An outright ban on the registration of remanufactured limousines, prohibiting their operation in New York State;
- Require drivers to hold a Commercial driver license with a special passenger endorsement to operate a for hire vehicle with 8 or more passengers;
- Make it a felony to remove an out of service sticker placed by a DOT inspector from a vehicle without having the vehicle re-inspected and cleared by DOT to return to service; Increase the civil penalty to a maximum fine of $25,000 per violation for any person found operating with suspended DOT operating authority or operating a vehicle without such authority and subject such actors to felony prosecution;
- Establish stronger registration suspension and vehicle impoundment powers, including an explicit process for immediate suspension of operating authority by the DOT Commissioner in circumstances that endanger the health, safety, and welfare of the public;
- Explicitly authorize DOT and DMV to seize suspended license plates;
- Make it a felony for any owner/operator to tamper with a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard tag or vehicle inspection sticker;
- Ensure vehicle impoundment occurs for purposes of felony violations and subject multiple violators to the potential for civil forfeiture of vehicle;
- Require mandatory reporting by inspection stations to DMV if a vehicle attempts an unauthorized inspection;
- Create new criminal penalties for any DMV-regulated inspection station that illegally issues an inspection sticker;
- Prohibit U-turns for larger vehicles on all roads within the state;
- Eliminate the exception to seatbelt requirements for limousines, buses, taxis, liveries, and school buses; and
- Establish a DOT inspection fee of $120 per inspection for vehicles subject to such inspection.
Walkabout Limousine, in Otisco, has a small fleet of five limousines.
Three of them are stretch are would have to be taken off the road if Governor Cuomo’s plan goes through, making it nearly impossible for the business to continue.
Operator Carrie Curtis says, “I would hate to walk away from an industry we love, about a situation where somebody didn’t care about people’s lives.”
If Cuomo’s laws are enacted, three of her vehicles will also need seat belts installed, not currently required.
The laws still need to be voted on by both chambers of the State Legislature.