Illegal Operator Busts Rise In California

Posted on November 25, 2009 by LCT Staff - Also by this author - About the author

SAN DIEGO, CA — The ongoing struggle against illegal operators in the chauffeured transportation industry’s most active state took a turn for the better in the third quarter with more busts and fines.

Lobbyists for the Greater California Livery Association told members during the San Diego dinner meeting last week that the California Public Utilities Commission cited and fined 56 illegal limousine businesses during the third quarter, and collected about $51,000 in fines. “It’s not much, but we can build on that,” said Gregg Cook of Government Affairs Consulting in Sacramento, the lobbying firm hired by the GCLA.

In addition, the CPUC sent 32 notices to chauffeured companies for false advertising, and 114 operators were issued cease and desist orders, Cook reported.

Nailing illegal operators — who undercut legitimate operators with lower rates because they don’t have to pay for insurance, licenses, fees, and inspections — will be a major part of the GCLA’s administrative and legislative agenda for 2010.

“The CPUC has been working with us to get pirate operators out of business,” Cook said. “Right now, if you are operating illegally, it is cheaper than becoming licenses or reinstated. We have to make it cheaper to operate legally with insurance.”

Other key GCLA priorities outlined by Cook and lobbyist Rob Grossglauser include:

• Ask the CPUC to shorten the suspension period for an operator from 90 days to 30 days before a license is revoked.

• Eliminate the tri-annual state renewal registration for operators.

• Allow CPUC officers to enforce airport rules and regulations at airports in addition to the state rules.

• Enhance authority to impound illegally operated livery vehicles and raise the fees charged to retrieve them.

• Increase the number of areas in the state eligible for the CPUC to conduct illegal operator stings.

• Clarify rules and procedures for School Pupil Activity Bus certifications. Work with the California Highway Patrol to establish detailed inspection procedures for SPAB operators who offer stretch limousine service to high school students for proms. Also, work with the Department of Education to develop a training curriculum for chauffeur SPAB certifications. [A state law effective Jan. 1, 2009 requires operators transporting pupils in limousine vehicles with 10 or more passengers or fewer to become SPAB certified].

Source: Martin Romjue, LCT Magazine

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