Hiring a limo service? Be sure it’s licensed with the state

FLINT TWP. — Planning a wedding? Going to the prom? If you’re thinking about hiring a limousine service for your special event, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) wants to remind you to make sure the service is properly licensed.

Limousine operators in Michigan are required to be licensed, carry sufficient liability insurance and undergo annual safety inspections on all their vehicles. An advertisement in the phone book, newspaper or Internet does not guarantee that the operator is licensed.

Operators who are not licensed are in violation of state law and subject to fines and penalties.

To find out if the limousine service you plan to use is licensed by the state, visit the MDOT Web site at www.michigan.gov/mdot. On the home page under “Favorite Links,” click on “Bus and Limo Licensing,” then select “Current List of Carriers.” If you do not see the limousine service listed, it is likely that the operator is providing service illegally and should not be hired.

To help find a limousine company close to you, there is an online option to search by county. (Note that carriers are certified statewide.) Or, call MDOT’s Bureau of Passenger Transportation at 517-241- 0679 (companies starting with A-K) or 517-241-0680 (L-Z) from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

To make your event extra special by using one of Michigan’s quality limo services, MDOT advises consumers to do their homework. Here’s a checklist to help:

1. The lowest price may not be the best price. Cost shouldn’t be the deciding factor. Find out if the price is really “too good to be true.”

2. Know the people you are doing business with and get references. If possible, visit the office, talk to the staff, and look at the specific limousine you will be using to determine if it will fit your needs. Ask about the limousine opera- tor’s policy on breakdowns, missed or late pickups and cancellations.

3. Know the cars and drivers. The limousine driver must make available a current copy of his or her driving record upon request. Find out about the limousine you are using: Ask to see the current annual inspection form, and look for the current year MDOT limousine decal that is on the driver side rear window.

4. Check the seating capacity for the limousine you are using. Any limousine that can hold more than 15 passengers (including the driver) is a bus and must have a separate MDOT Bus Operating Authority license, which holds the company, buses and drivers to higher regulatory standards for insurance, inspections and driver qualifications.

5. Check the invoice carefully. When you receive your bill, check it over carefully and make sure the prices quoted match the invoice.

6. Most importantly, go to the MDOT Web site to see if the limousine company is licensed. Rhonda Sanders

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