PHOENIX — Holiday revelers planning to hit the town in party buses and limousines should consider whether the company they hire is properly licensed and registered, industry experts say.
The October limousine crash in upstate New York that killed 20 people is a chilling reminder that a joy ride can turn tragic. Authorities say the limousine had its registration revoked and had failed inspections before the crash.
“That’s a case in which it slipped through the cracks,” said Jeff Conly, owner of Vitesse Worldwide, a chauffeured services provider.
Conly is president of the Arizona Limousine Association. He says there are party buses and limousines on Arizona roads today that are not fully registered. The drivers and the vehicles of those companies do not undergo full background and safety checks.
The Arizona Limousine Association provides a list of companies considered safe and reliable, Conly said.
In Arizona, vehicles of 14 passengers or under are regulated by the state under "vehicle for hire" licensing rules.
The companies must have paperwork proving drivers are up to date on criminal background checks, drug testing records, and maintenance records.
Vehicles like party buses holding 15 passengers or more are regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Potential customers should look for a federal DOT number on the vehicle to know they are properly registered.
“These undergo several inspections by regulators,” Conly said. “They check the brakes, log books, history of maintenance, it's really detailed."
Additionally, a vehicle with a DOT registration must have $5 million in liability insurance.
“And that's a big concern if they don't have that. A lot of companies skate that," Conly said.
Using an established company that follows the rules will likely cost customers on average about 10 percent more, Conly said.
12 News interim producer Ariel Salk contributed to this story.