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As any business owner, or alert employee working for a business knows, we toil amid massive regulations, unprecedented in the 224-year history of the U.S. American business is being eaten up by costly rules, nibbled by a government obese with good intentions, whether it pertains to manning the workplace, running vehicles, starting a business, exploring for more energy, or in the case of New York City, simply drinking a sugary soda. Blame flourishes more than responsibility, while the language of legal liability can barely keep up with rampant lawsuits.
‘Not my fault’ and ‘You will pay for this’ are 21st Century America’s litigious mantras.
So it should be no surprise that after several tragic accidents involving drunk passengers in limousine vehicles, the state of California would try to. . . just do something! As of Jan. 1, A.B. 45 became law, requiring operators to make sure a chaperone age 25 or older is on duty on any limo vehicle where alcohol and minors are present. As LCT writer Jim Luff’s article in this issue explains, that chaperone must be provided either by the chartering party or the limousine company. Either way, the chaperone is held responsible for any underage drinking, while the operator is mandated to ensure a legal chaperone is present in the first place.
Now, while the new law may be less than ideal, it is as the saying goes, one the chauffeured transportation industry can do business with. It serves as much a model of industry and government cooperation as it does a sincere attempt to protect charter parties and the traveling public. The process shows how businesses can sway regulations to work in their favor — in an over-regulated culture that thinks it can create a risk-free Utopia.
The law evolved from frequent communication and interaction between the Greater California Livery Association and the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo. What came out of this process was the product of the GCLA patiently explaining how the limousine industry works, and an open-minded and gracious state politician who took the time to listen to business interests.
“Everyone has to take responsibility, but [Sen. Hill] didn’t come across as if he was writing this bill to take it out on the limo industry,” said Gary Buffo, a board director of the GCLA and the National Limousine Association, who runs a large chauffeured transportation company in Petaluma, Calif. “He did it for his constituents.”