Beware of unlicensed limousine companies

April 20, 2015

limo-1Prom night creates driving hazards for many young people in our state each spring.

Hiring a limousine service is one way parents and students can ease their anxiety and help ensure the night’s travel itinerary is safe.

However, there are unlicensed limousine services putting everyone on the road at risk.

Unlicensed and unregulated limo businesses offer rides in vehicles that may be dangerous and driven by people who are unfit to drive or provide services to young people.

Limo-poster-thumbnailParents and students can easily check whether a business is licensed by visiting the Department of Licensing’s website.

DOL’s website includes consumer tips, a printable poster and a video that offers tips about hiring a limo service.

DOL’s printable poster states, Don’t Muck Around When You Rent a Limo, and includes helpful information.

 


VIDEO: Trooper speaks about dangers of impaired, distracted driving

September 9, 2014
trooper-carr-2b

Trooper Sean Carr

(Seattle) The year was new, the weather still dark and cold when a threat to drivers intensified during the morning rush-hour on Interstate-5.

An SUV traveled south in the northbound lanes.

It struck one vehicle, then continued.

Then, it struck another. Still, the SUV pressed on.

Trooper Sean Carr heard the call from dispatch on that January morning.

    An erratic, wrong-way driver.

Carr understood the threat level.

“Lots of people are off to work, getting kids off to school or getting them to daycare,” he recalled months later.

As Carr travelled north on I-5, the SUV approached and showed no sign of slowing.

“I had to take her SUV head-on with this patrol car,” Carr shared.

Carr, whose wife and father-in-law are also state troopers, knew this was the type of moment he’d signed-up for when he joined the Washington State Patrol seven years earlier:  a moment to serve and protect.

Carr said he made a split-second decision.

“I knew there was a trooper behind me, who was actually a cadet, with his field-training officer riding with him. They were in direct line with the SUV behind me. There was plenty of northbound traffic already on the roadway… And I knew that she’d already struck two other vehicles and continued. And if I did not put myself in front of her, she was going to keep going.

“I made the conscious decision to sacrifice my patrol car, and even potentially sacrifice myself, to stop that (SUV) because as a state trooper, I believe in that; that I am here to run towards the gunfire.  I’m here to help people, save people and, if need be, to lay my life down for those people.”

The memory of the moment of impact on that morning nine months ago has stayed with him.

“I think about it every time I put on my vest on and jump in my car,” Carr said.

Incredibly, no one was seriously hurt.

Safety features built into the patrol car—crumple and crush zones—helped minimize Carr’s injuries.  His vehicle returned to the road after two-months in a repair shop.

Police said the SUV’s 19-year-old driver was intoxicated.

Carr is acutely aware that the driver and her passenger were fortunate to have survived.

“Absolutely.  And in previous years, I responded to, basically, a mimic situation: A young lady who was going the wrong way, southbound in the northbound lanes…. And she ended up striking a small pickup truck with two teenagers inside, of which the young  female teenager lost her life instantly. And the young male driver, he was in serious condition and in intensive care for several months.”

Carr recalled the moment when police first made contact with the impaired driver in that crash.

“We were literally putting the flames out on her vehicle while she was still in the driver’s seat with a broken leg. And she’s asking us, why did we pull her over?  She had no recollection or knowledge that she had just ended someone’s life and sent somebody else to the intensive care unit.”

Carr said that, in one year alone, he responded to three cases involving wrong-way drivers who were drunk.

“I personally can’t stress enough the importance of communicating with your kids,” Carr said.

“Parents need to talk to their kids about the fact that, you know what?  If you make a mistake, you make a mistake. But instead of risking your life and risking the lives of numerous other people, call somebody. Call your mom. Call your dad. Call your uncle. Call your aunt.  Your brother. Your sister.  Somebody that is sober and can come take care of you. You’d be better off calling mom and dad and letting them know that you’re not okay to drive, than me calling mom and dad and meeting them at the doorstep and telling them that you’ll never drive again.”

DOL produced the two videos below featuring our interview with Trooper Sean Carr. 


Ride safely to the prom in a licensed limo

April 11, 2013
Limo poster

Don’t be taken for a ride by an unlicensed limo company.

Prom season is upon us, and many high school students will be trying to make their special night even more fun by hiring a limo.  The Department of Licensing reminds parents and students to check to see if the limo they hire is licensed by the state. 

 
If you’re planning to make your event extra special by using one of Washington’s quality limo services, we suggest you do your homework,” Department of Licensing Director Teresa Berntsen said. “Don’t be taken for a ride by an unlicensed limousine company.  Always check references and make sure the company is licensed before you hire them.”
 
Limousine operators in Washington are required to be licensed, carry sufficient liability insurance, and undergo annual safety inspections by the Washington State Patrol or City of Seattle. Chauffeurs must be at least 21 years of age, hold a valid driver license, complete a chauffeur training course and pass a State Patrol background check.
 
Berntsen said a website, Craigslist ad, or a simple advertisement in the phone book or newspaper does not guarantee the operator is licensed. Unlicensed limousine operators may not meet state insurance or safety requirements and it can be difficult to hold them accountable if problems arise.
 
To find out if the limousine service you plan to use is licensed by the state, visit the Department of Licensing website at www.dol.wa.gov/business/limousine/. Scroll down to the area for consumers, click on “Look up a business or professional license” and then “Search business license.”  If you do not see the business listed as a limousine company, please call 360-705-6744. They can help you verify that the limousine company is properly licensed.
 
DOL Video:  Renting a Limo / Ride in Style, Ride Safely

Consumers should watch for flood-damaged vehicles

November 20, 2012
 
Thousands of vehicles damaged by the recent hurricane-related flooding on the east coast may find their way into the garages of unsuspecting consumers all across the nation in coming months.
 
While it is not yet known exactly how many vehicles were damaged or destroyed by the flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy, the number is expected to be very high. Many of these vehicles are expected to move from state to state as they are cleaned up and offered for sale at auto auctions, used car dealerships, and even by private parties. 
 
After being cleaned up, these vehicles may look like any other vehicle. However, there are significant mechanical, safety and health risks associated with flood-damaged vehicles.
 
Due to the high number of vehicles suffering damage, it is possible some of them will enter Washington and be offered for sale here, Department of Licensing Director Alan Haight said. And because dealers may not be aware of a vehicle’s past, consumers must protect themselves, he added.
 
“When purchasing a used car, consumers should always carefully examine and test drive a vehicle,” Haight said. “They also should have it inspected by a mechanic they trust and avoid any seller who refuses to allow an independent inspection.”
 
Dirty floodwater can cause rust and damage major mechanical parts like engines and transmissions. The water also damages electrical systems especially onboard computers that are often located at low points in vehicles, like under seats. Salt water is particularly damaging to the sensitive electronics in modern vehicles.
 
These tips can help to spot potential flood-damaged vehicles:
 
  • Before buying any used car, always get a pre-purchase inspection by a trusted mechanic. The extra cost may save money in the long run if major problems are discovered.
  • Ask to see the title of a used car. Check the date and place of transfer to see if the car came from a flood-damaged state and if the title is stamped “salvage.”
  • Use an online vehicle history tracking service like Carfax.com to get more information about a vehicle’s past.
  • Check all gauges on the dashboard to make sure they are accurate, and to look for signs of water.
  • Test the lights, windshield wipers, turn signals, cigarette lighter, radio, heater and air conditioner several times to make sure they work. Also, flex some wires under the dash to see if they bend or crack, since wet wires become brittle upon drying and can crack or fail at any time.
  • Check the trunk, glove compartment, and beneath the seats and dash for signs of mud, rust or water damage.
  • Look for discolored, faded or stained upholstery and carpeting. Carpeting that has been replaced may fit too loosely or may not match the interior color.
  • Check for a well-defined line, or watermark, and for musty odors resulting from mildew.
  • If the car’s history seems suspicious, ask the seller if the car has been damaged by floodwater. Get the answer in writing on the bill of sale.

Some driver and vehicle fees increasing in October

October 1, 2012

DOL

OLYMPIA — Several fees related to driver and vehicle licensing charged by the Department of Licensing increased today.

These fee increases, passed by the 2012 State Legislature, are required to continue to fund the operation and maintenance of the roads, streets, bridges, ferries, transit systems, and other services that make up our vital transportation system.

(Please click image below for larger view of fees.)


New state program seeks public’s voice on transportation policy and funding issues

September 21, 2012
WSTC

WSTC

The Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) recently launched the Voice of Washington State (VOWS) statewide public engagement program, which includes seven regional online discussion forums and an online survey panel. The WSTC is asking state residents to log on to www.voiceofwashingtonstate.org to sign up and share input on how to improve the state’s transportation system.

Individuals can join the VOWS Online Discussion Forums and publicly voice their opinions, post ideas and interact with other citizens in their community. They can also join the VOWS Survey Panel to participate in occasional online surveys. The Commission is using the new online forum technology to empower citizens to become thought-leaders on transportation
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“Sparking a robust conversation around transportation issues, and collecting survey data that indicates people’s opinions and thoughts on policy and funding approaches, will help decision makers identify possible solutions and investment priorities,” noted Reema Griffith, executive director of the WSTC. “When people share what matters to them when they drive, ride, bike, walk or fly within their communities, their needs can be more effectively addressed.”

The ultimate goal is to gather public input on Washington state transportation policy and funding, and to inform the statewide discussion and decision-making process. Topics for discussion will focus on all things transportation: highways, mass transit, freight and high-speed rail, ferries, barges and aviation. The governor and Legislature will be briefed on the ideas and data generated through the online discussion forums and surveys.

The combination of the online survey and the regional online discussion forums is a new outreach strategy for the WSTC. While the Commission has conducted successful phone and email surveys through the Ferry Riders Opinion Group for a few years, the primary community input tool has been public meetings. The online tools remove the distance and travel barriers inherent to public meetings; this increases the opportunity for everyone – no matter where they live – to participate and share their views.

Details about the VOWS program components are as follows:

  • The VOWS Online Discussion Forums are for publicly sharing, voting and commenting on regional and statewide transportation ideas. Participants can join any or all of the seven regional discussion forums.
  • The VOWS Survey Panel is a way for citizens to communicate their opinions and preferences by taking occasional surveys on transportation policy, funding and tax issues. The result is statistically valid data representing the priorities and opinions of Washington state residents. The input from individuals is anonymous because the survey company does not attach personal information to the survey results. Each participant will receive the surveys through email.

The seven regional discussion forums are: West (Region 1), North Puget Sound (Region 2), Central Puget Sound (Region 3), Southwest (Region 4), Central (Region 5), Northeast (Region 6) and Southeast (Region 7).  Discussions within each forum will focus on both region-specific issues as well as statewide topics, such as roads and pedestrian safety.

Any Washington state resident is eligible to join the VOWS Online Discussion Forums or the VOWS Survey Panel. Registration is limited to one email address per person; submission of the person’s name, email address and county is all that is required to set up a VOWS account for participation.