Is This Industry Only 30 Percent Legal?

Posted on July 1, 1992 by Scott Fletcher, LCT Editor/Publisher

This spring, enforcement agents of the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) conducted a spot check of ten limousines at a prom in Santa Barbara and found that seven were out of compliance with registration or insurance requirements. It’s hard to imagine that the same ratio of gypsy operators applies everywhere, but I think this might prompt regional limousine associations to once again focus on this stubborn problem.

In Connecticut, Teddy Wisniewski has suggested that regulators solve their shortage of manpower by “deputizing’ members of the Limousine Owners of Connecticut as supplemental officers to issue citations to gypsies. In Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, local limousine associations contacted prominent newspapers about the dangers posed to the public by gypsy operators which led to extensive articles on the situation. In California, the Limousine Owners Association of California (LOAC) hosted representatives from the PUC at a recent meeting to discuss improving enforcement. LOAC president, Harold Berkman, also appeared on television recently with David Horowitz to explain why legal companies are the only ones the public can trust.

The National Limousine Association (NLA) is currently considering more aggressive measures to restrict its membership to companies that comply completely with their local regulations and insurance requirements. This is part of a new Code of Ethics expected to be adopted by the NLA Board of Directors in September, according to president George Jacobs, who credits the Tampa Bay Limousine Association for providing the basis of the document.

We recommend that every association continue to support the efforts of local regulators, and continue to urge the public to check for an operator’s license and insurance. We also recommend that operators strictly enforce the passenger limits of each individual limousine to avoid being overloaded. In addition to being unsafe, overloaded limousines are being cited in increasing numbers across the country.

Gas Guzzler Update

The good news is that Lincoln has announced improved fuel economy after recent tests of the 1992 Town Car. The new figures are expected to lower Lincoln limousines one notch on the sliding scale of penalties. Models charged a $1700 penalty in the past, for example, are expected to carry a $1300 penalty pending notification of coachbuilders by Lincoln.

On the other hand, little progress has been reported by the NLA or the Limousine Industry Manufacturer’s Organization (LIMO) who have now studied the problem for a year and a half. “The problem is,” says Jacobs, “that Congress can’t find anyplace else to recover this revenue.” The NLA Board of Directors has decided at its September meeting to take up the matter in earnest — perhaps in cooperation with LIMO. Meanwhile, the industry is urged to write to their Congressmen to urge an exemption to the penalty for commercial vehicles.


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