Governor signs law to protect limousine passengers

Crash in Schoharie killed 20 people

ALBANY, NY (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) — In the wake of the fatal limousine crash in Schoharie that killed 20 people in 2018, Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation on Thursday, November 16 that will protect limousine passengers across New York State.

The reforms were recommended by the Stretch Limousine Passenger Safety Task Force, which was established in 2020, and brought a report of recommendations to the governor in 2022.

The crash in the town of Schoharie also led a jury to convict the operator, Nauman Hussain, on 20 counts of criminally negligent homicide. He was sentenced in May to five to fifteen years in prison.

“The safety of all New Yorkers is my top priority, and I have listened to and heard the families who lost loved ones and know that more can and must be done,” Governor Hochul said in a statement. “I am grateful to the families and advocates for all their hard work as part of the Stretch Limousine Passenger Safety Task Force. No other family should have to suffer as they have. Building on the actions that my administration has taken to protect New Yorkers, this legislation will provide even more oversight and transparency to the limousine industry and keep New Yorkers safe.”  

The Stretch Limousine Passenger Safety Act addresses the recommendations of the Task Force, including:

  • Requiring a minimum $10,000 fine for operating a suspended stretch limousine and authorizing the Department of Transportation to collaborate with law enforcement to seize license plates of offenders driving passenger vehicles subject to their jurisdiction.
  • Requiring that stretch limousines to be equipped with enhanced safety features, including fire extinguishers and roll-over protections.
  • Prohibiting the operation of a stretch limousine that is over 10 years old or has milage exceeding 350,000 miles, whichever occurs first.
  • Improving data availability on limousine operators.
  • Mandating that all stretch limousine passengers be given a pre-trip safety briefing. 

“We have an unwavering commitment to prevent another tragedy like those that led to the formation of the task force, and I commend Governor Hochul for taking action to advance the task force’s recommendations that will build on the work we have done to further protect New Yorkers,” New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Mark Schroeder said in a statement. “Thanks to the Governor’s leadership and the ongoing collaboration of the DMV and DOT, we have been able to get dangerous vehicles off the road and this bill will enable us to do more to ensure the safety of everyone who uses or encounters a stretched limo on our roads.” 

In response to the accident, the Department of Motor Vehicles has also made administrative changes, including:

  • changes to the vehicle registration and change of ownership process,
  • increasing the number of limousine reviews,
  • increasing coordination between states, and
  • increasing enforcement actions against fraudulent registration and operation.

“The work of the Stretch Limousine Passenger Safety Task Force has resulted in a new, comprehensive legislative package that will further protect consumers,” New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said in a statement. “Our commitment to doing what we can to prevent another tragedy is steadfast and I thank our partners on the Task Force who worked so diligently to bring forth these common sense proposals and Governor Hochul for her continued commitment to safety within the limousine industry.”

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