Operations

Limo Company Doing Business Without Permit or Insurance

Posted on December 1, 2004 by LCT Staff - Also by this author - About the author

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The story begins with a routine fender bender.

Accident victim Justin Billingsley said, "We were on our way to dinner and he ran the stop sign and hit us." As accidents go, it was a mismatch. Justin Billingsley and his family were in his Toyota, but came up against a much bigger, much heavier, super-sized SUV. Basil Beckwith was driving the SUV limo the night of Oct. 15 for a company called First Class Exotic Cars and Limousines. The first hint of trouble came after the accident, when Beckwith started looking for the limo's insurance information. "I was looking for the insurance in the car and there was none in there," Beckwith said.

When he didn't find any papers, Beckwith called limo company owner Shane Williams, who told police his limo is insured with Progressive insurance. Several days later, when Billingsley got a copy of the police report and called Progressive to see about filing a claim, he was referred to a 14-digit policy number on the report.

"Progressive said their policy numbers are only 9 numbers long," Billingsley said. "They searched for the driver, for the company, and could find no record." At that point, Billingsley called Williams directly. He says Williams offered to pay him cash for some of the damages, but not for his wife's medical bills. "I have insurance. That car had insurance," Williams said. Williams then said the limousine is based in Atlanta and was just passing through Charlotte when the accident happened.

But the limo was not in Atlanta. It was in at a storage yard in Pineville, N.C. And, it had been driving the streets of Charlotte without the necessary permit.

According to Joe Vanderlip, who issues Charlotte’s city business permits, unless a vehicle has a city permit and a window sticker from his office, a limo isn't allowed to carry passengers in Charlotte. He said, "The last time I have them being registered is August, 2002. Beckwith said he was a chauffeur for Williams for the past three months.

A month after the accident, Billingsley was still waiting for insurance to pay up. “I just have to keep borrowing friends' cars to get to work," he said.

The police officer who worked the accident said she may charge Williams with operating a car without insurance, which is a misdemeanor. He could also face up to $600 in fines for doing business in Charlotte without proper permits.

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