RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – It's bright. It's tacky. Richmonders can't seem to get enough of it. If you're planning on going on a tacky lights tour and hiring a limo company, do your homework first. The DMV is warning customers to research the limo companies first because not everyone is legit.
If the company you pick to take you to see the bright lights isn't licensed with the state as required by law, you're putting your money and safety at risk.
There's no question Richmonders are crazy about their Christmas lights tours.
"Oh they're huge," explained Randy Allen with James Limousine Service. "We started getting calls in July."
He has seen some pretty Scrooge-like characters taking advantage of the tacky lights tour's popularity.
"It's very easy for an individual to go out and by a 10-12 year old vehicle, keep it in their garage and during very popular periods of demand like now in December and prom season suddenly become a limousine company," he told NBC12.
But it takes more than that. In Virginia, limo services are regulated by the state.
"A lot of people just think 'I need a limo I'm just going to look in the phone book and call one,'" said Department of Motor Vehicles Spokesperson Melanie Stokes. "They don't realize that they are licensed and insured and they need to get one that is an established carrier that has a good reputation."
For the drivers of larger vehicles, there are also special requirements as far as training and inspections and random drug and alcohol tests.
The DMV has set up a web resource to make sure the company you choose is on the up and up. It also suggests you ask to see the limo you'll be taking, check inspection and registration stickers and ensure they have adequate insurance. And of course, make sure you read all the fine print before signing any contract.
You'll want to keep in mind those tips for this decades' old Richmond tradition!
Click here for a link with DMV approved carriers.