Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced comprehensive safety reforms for limousines and large passenger vehicles will be included in the 2019 executive budget. Following the horrific tragedy involving a modified stretched limousine in Schoharie County in 2018, the Governor has committed to enacting essential safety reforms into law.
Governor Cuomo proposed a number of statutory reforms to both protect passengers and hold those accountable who seek to defy the law, including:
– An outright ban on the registration of remanufactured limousines, prohibiting their operation in New York State;
– Require drivers to hold a Commercial driver license with a special passenger endorsement to operate a for hire vehicle with 8 or more passengers;
– Make it a felony to remove an out of service sticker placed by a DOT inspector from a vehicle without having the vehicle re-inspected and cleared by DOT to return to service; Increase the civil penalty to a maximum fine of $25,000 per violation for any person found operating with suspended DOT operating authority or operating a vehicle without such authority and subject such actors to felony prosecution;
– Establish stronger registration suspension and vehicle impoundment powers, including an explicit process for immediate suspension of operating authority by the DOT Commissioner in circumstances that endanger the health, safety, and welfare of the public;
– Explicitly authorize DOT and DMV to seize suspended license plates;
Make it a felony for any owner/operator to tamper with a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard tag or vehicle inspection sticker;
– Ensure vehicle impoundment occurs for purposes of felony violations and subject multiple violators to the potential for civil forfeiture of vehicle;
– Require mandatory reporting by inspection stations to DMV if a vehicle attempts an unauthorized inspection;
– Create new criminal penalties for any DMV-regulated inspection station that illegally issues an inspection sticker;
– Prohibit U-turns for larger vehicles on all roads within the state;
– Eliminate the exception to seatbelt requirements for limousines, buses, taxis, liveries, and school buses; and
– Establish a DOT inspection fee of $120 per inspection for vehicles subject to such inspection.