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NY has some good news
for people renting limos
New laws make it safer for passengers enjoying the Finger Lakes.
By Jim Reed
Ziff Law Firm, Elmira
Schuyler County residents getting ready for a group outing along one of the Finger Lakes Wine Trails, or planning a wedding or some other special occasion, can feel safer renting from a limousine service after New York state adopted tougher regulations for the state's limo industry.
Many limo services, anticipating the new laws and trying to reassure wary consumers, have already invested in making their fleets safer.
If you're going to hire a limo service, be sure to ask questions about their vehicles before making a deal. Do they have seatbelts for all passengers? Has the vehicle been inspected? Is the driver licensed and trained to operate a limousine?
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the legislation on Feb. 3, after a lot of lobbying and negotiating in Albany, in response to an Oct. 6, 2018, stretch limo crash in Schoharie, NY, near Albany, that killed 20 people, including all 17 passengers in the limo and the driver. State officials said the limousine crashed because of what they called "catastrophic brake failure."
The owner of the limo company, Nauman Hussain, is facing 20 counts of Second-Degree Manslaughter and 20 counts of Criminally Negligent Homicide. The state alleges that he did not keep the limo safe and avoided attempts by the state to keep it off the road.
The 17 passengers who were killed included four sisters, three of their husbands, and friends and family. They were celebrating a birthday. Two pedestrians were also killed.
Here are some highlights from the new laws:
--Starting in 2021, stretch limousines must have at least two safety belts in the front seat and at least one safety belt in the rear for each passenger. All current limos that need to retrofit seatbelts have until Jan. 1, 2023.
--The law expands seatbelt requirements in for-hire vehicles such as taxis. All people over age 8 years old must wear seatbelts.
--Limousine drivers with nine or more passengers, including the driver, will have to have a commercial driver's license (CDL).
--Drivers will be fined $250 to $400 and could get up to 15 days in jail if they make illegal turns. The fines could increase to $600 to $750, and drivers could get up to 45 days in jail, if there is a second violation within 18 months.
--There will be a statewide telephone hotline so people can report safety issues with stretch limousines, and the state will have a new safe limo website.
--Vehicle drivers and motor carriers will be subject to pre-employment and random drug and alcohol testing.
Let's hope the new laws help prevent another catastrophic crash from occurring.
Thanks for reading,
Photo in text: Attorney Jim Reed.
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