The livery licensing process that has been under way in Virginia for about a year has reached its goal: All certified passenger and product carriers in the state now have license plates that state “for hire.”
This came as a result of a complete re-writing of the state laws that affect limousines, among other vehicles, in July of 2002.
The delay in making the actual changes was due to budget cuts at the Department of Motor Vehicles, according to Glenn Stafford, president of the Virginia Limousine Association.
Limousine operators, along with law enforcement officers, charter bus and taxicab operators, DMV officials and airport inspectors, set up a task force to develop the changes, Stafford said.
Operators are pleased with the outcome, since the new law makes it much more difficult for illegal operators to stay in business, Stafford said.
“Before, there was no penalty for non-compliance [with licensing laws], but with the for-hire tag, now police will be out looking. It’ll be real easy to see who’s legitimate or not.”
The law will also stop operators from Maryland and Washington from providing point-to-point runs within Virginia, a common practice despite a law that states they cannot do that.
Should they continue to do so, they can be fined anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 per violation, Stafford said. “[The VIA] has educated the law enforcement officers so they know what to look for,” he said.
“[For] the people that are paying the right insurance and the proper licensing, it’s going to be easier to do business because we can get rid of these other yahoos that are taking money out of out pockets,” he added.