Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said her administration will step up its efforts to find and penalize limousine and for-hire drivers operating vehicles illegally during prom season, with safety checks at popular venues to make sure students aren't taken for a ride.
The county's Department of Consumer Affairs, including the Taxi & Limousine Commission, working with inspectors from the state Department of Transportation, is looking for uninsured, unregistered and unlicensed vehicles and drivers.
The initiative resulted in 122 violations last year and 20 violations after four proms so far this year. The first-offense penalty for an unregistered vehicle is $1,500. Promgoers in limos found to have violations may lose their transportation.
"We are cracking down and taking action to help ensure our young people are taken to and from their prom by licensed, safe drivers," said Curran, who was joined Friday by District Attorney Madeline Singas and Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder in front of Mineola High School. "We urge parents to be proactive and inquire where their child's limo is coming from. Many vehicles come from out-of-state and may not pass a New York State safety inspection."
In addition, county officials reminded students and their parents to have a plan for safe transportation during prom and graduation season.
"We see every day in the DA's office what happens when people make the wrong choices and lives are shattered. Don't let that happen. Enjoy this time," said Singas, who also warned parents that they would be arrested and prosecuted under the county's social host law if found serving alcohol to anyone younger than 21.
"This isn't a time to be your kid's friend, you still have to be their parents," Singas said.
DWI arrests are up 18 percent this year over last year, Ryder said. County police make about 2,500 DWI arrests annually.
During the months of May and June, the number of auto accidents also increases by about 18 percent, Ryder said.
"A lot of that is these young kids who are graduating from high school with those licenses, going out to these parties, having a good time and forgetting the fact that they have to drive home," Ryder said. "Get yourself home safe so you can go on to that next stage of life."
Penny Casey, president of the Long Island Limousine Association, a 90-member industry group based in Massapequa Park, said she supported the increased enforcement on unregistered limos in Nassau.
"If this is going to get the rogue operators off the streets — those driving in this county illegally — then I agree. This is something we've been fighting for for a long time to keep our kids safe," Casey said.