News 12 at 6 o'clock--April 27, 2009
AUGUSTA---Prom season is here. That means it's time for corsages, bow-ties and, for some prom-goers, a limo ride for the big dance.
But some limousine companies aren't playing by the rules and your child's safety could be at stake. You need to make sure your limo is properly licensed.
Georgia law says all limousine companies have to be registered with the Public Service Commission.
There are dozens upon dozens of limo services listed in the phone book and on the internet in the Augusta area. And get this, only a handful of them are properly registered with the state. Meaning if you don't check out your limo, you could be "taken for a ride."
This is the time of the year for proms, weddings and formals. A time for romance. And a time to get dressed up and maybe even catch a ride in a limo to arrive in style.
But what you don't know is that a lot of the companies that rent these fancy cars aren't operating legally and that means your family's safety could be at risk.
That's something Valencia Flowers says you don't have to worry about with her company. She says she makes it a priority for her company, Exquisite Ground Transportation, to be properly registered with the State of Georgia.
"We feel more comfortable being registered with the state than not being registered" she said.
The same goes for Michael Cooper and Aspire Livery Services.
"Anytime you go into business, you want to be legal" he said.
We found dozens of companies on the internet and in the yellow pages listed under limousine services. And only five were registered with the State.
By law, companies listed as limo companies have to be registered with the State of Georgia's Public Service Commission.
If they aren't, they can face fines in the 10's of thousands of dollars. When they're registered, they have to meet certain guidelines.
Those rules and regulations cover things like insurance and safety standards. Every year, the vehicles have to be inspected and a detailed sheet like this is filled out covering anything from brakes to steering to tires. There are no short cuts.
That means if a company is not registered with the state, it is harder to know if its vehicles are being inspected. It is also harder to know if drivers have proper insurance and training to drive a limousine.
"You want to make sure when your children get in that car, whether it's a limo, bus or sedan, that company has done everything to ensure the safety of its passengers. That's the bottom line" Valencia said.
Here are some things you can do:
Check with the Public Service Commission to make sure a company is registered properly.
Make them produce documents proving they are insured.
And do all of this before handing over any deposits.
Don't just take their word for it.
That's Georgia, a spokesperson for South Carolina says limousine companies are not licensed in the Palmetto State at all.