Edgerton limousine company involved in fatal crash ordered to shut down

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WASHINTON — The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced Tuesday, April 5th that it has ordered Edgerton, Wisconsin-based Lyons Limousine to immediately cease all intrastate and interstate operations after a federal investigation found the carrier to pose an imminent hazard to public safety.

According to a press released, FMCSA served the Imminent Hazard Order on Mary and Patrick Lyons, doing business as Lyons Limousine, LLC, on April 1, 2016.

On March 25, 2016, a commercial passenger vehicle operated by Lyons Limousine was involved in a single vehicle crash on Interstate 90 in Elgin, Illinois, resulting in the fatality of one passenger and injury to several others.

The Lyons Limousine driver involved in the crash was only 20-years-old; the federal regulations require interstate commercial drivers be at least 21-years old.  FMCSA’s investigation showed that the same underage driver had been dispatched by the company on at least two other occasions in March 2016.

A federal compliance review investigation conducted by FMCSA safety investigators found the company to be in violation of multiple federal safety regulations including: repeatedly using an underaged driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle, failing to conduct required pre-employment background checks on its drivers, failing to maintain any records of maintenance, and failing to monitor its drivers hours of service to prevent fatigued driving.  The investigation revealed that the company did not possess safety and operating authority registration or maintain the required levels of public liability insurance.

Lyons Limousine also failed to conduct the required background checks on its two drivers, one of whom was an owner of the company, Mary Lyons.

Neither the 20-year-old driver nor Mary Lyons possessed a valid medical examiner’s certificate and both had poor driving records.  These deficiencies should have been discovered had the company conducted the investigations required under the federal regulations.

The 20-year-old driver’s personal driver’s license had been suspended by the state of Wisconsin on September 10, 2015 for failure to pay a fine.

This individual had been convicted on five separate occasions beginning April 11, 2012 through June 7, 2015 for: speeding, obstruction of traffic in a property damage crash, following too closely in a property damage crash, failing to obey a traffic sign or signal, and failing to fasten a seat belt.  Between May 1, 2013 and August 14, 2014, driver Mary Lyons was convicted for: failing to fasten a seat belt on one occasion and speeding on two other separate occasions.  On September 4, 2013, Mary Lyons’ personal driver’s license had been suspended by the state of Wisconsin for failure to pay a fine.

During the FMCSA investigation, the owners of Lyons Limousine could not produce any records-of-duty status for any of its drivers, which should have been used to monitor its drivers hours of service. FMCSA’s investigation further revealed that two of the company’s drivers had other jobs.  When dispatching the drivers, the company should have considered the hours worked both at Lyons Limousines and elsewhere to assure that the individuals did not exceed federal hours-of-service safety regulations.  Lyons Limousine was also unable to produce any vehicle maintenance records or driver vehicle inspection reports.  The company could not produce any evidence that it conducted any of the required safety inspections of its vehicles.

All interstate for-hire passenger carriers are required to register with USDOT/FMCSA.  As a condition of federal operating authority registration, a passenger carrier is also required to file proof of and maintain $1.5 million in liability insurance.  At the time of the March 25, 2016 crash, Lyons Limousine had been operating in violation of the federal operating authority registration requirements for more than three years, its safety registration had been inactivated for failure to file a required report, and the company did not have any public liability insurance on file with FMCSA.

FMCSA’s imminent hazard out-of-service order states that: “Lyons Limousine’s use of unqualified and underaged drivers with poor driving records, lack of inspection, repair, and maintenance records, and complete disregard of the hours-of-service regulations substantially increases the likelihood of death or serious harm to drivers, passengers, and the motoring public if not discontinued immediately.”

Lyons Limousine also may be subject to a civil penalty enforcement proceeding brought by FMCSA for his violation of the agency’s safety regulations.

Violating a federal imminent hazard out-of-service order may result in civil penalties of up to $25,000.  A motor carrier may also be assessed civil penalties of not less than $25,000 for providing transportation requiring registration, including operating in interstate commerce, without federal operating authority and up to $16,000 for operating without a USDOT number registration.

A violation of this order may also result in a criminal penalty, including a fine of up to $25,000 and imprisonment not to exceed one year.  Further civil and criminal penalties may be assessed for any safety violations discovered after the service of the April 1, 2016 order.