State lawmakers in the budget approved measures meant to crack down on unsafe stretch limousines and make it easier for inspectors to get them off the road if deemed to be dangerous.
The changes come after an October stretch limousine crash in Schoharie killed 20 people, including the driver and two bystanders.
The new regulations include doubled penalties for violating safety rules and regulations for limousine operation. At the same time, the Department of Motor Vehicles would be permitted to confiscate license plates of stretch limousines that have failed to pass inspection.
Limousines that have been found to be altered to become “stretch” limos would also be subject to an inspection beyond the typical motor vehicle inspection process. Operators of stretch limousines would also have to display its safety qualifications and licensing, including inspection information, driver qualifications, and operating authority.
Operating a stretch limousine that has been suspended would subject a person to a felony. Stretch limousines would also be barred from making U-turn on any public highways.
At the same time, new insurance coverage would be required for stretch limousine operators.
“We put some additional insurance coverage on limousine services that I think are appropriate under the circumstances,” said Sen. Neil Breslin.
Assemblyman Phil Steck said he was supportive of the changes, but question whether the increased penalties would go far enough.
“I think it’s an improvement,” he said. “The difficulty is everyone loves increased criminal penalties don’t solve problems, they punish problems after they occurred.”