Renting or riding in limo, party bus? Check to see if it has permit

PORTLAND, Ore. - It's prom season, which means a lot of teenagers will be renting limousines or party buses.

Before renting or riding in one, it might be a good idea to check to see if the company has the proper permits and safety features.

Angie Hernandez, 11, fell out of an emergency exit window of a party bus and died last September. The company that owned the bus did not have the required permits.

After the accident, the city of Portland suspended the company and its vehicles. Prosecutors did not charge the driver but he was cited for failing to have a commercial driver's license.

On just one Saturday night in downtown Portland, city inspectors caught 12 limos and party buses without permits. They were packed with high school kids going to prom.

Those with permits have a yellow sticker outside. No sticker means it doesn't have a permit from the city of Portland.

A permit means limos and party buses passed rigorous safety and mechanical inspections and drivers passed criminal background checks. The owners have also proven they have liability insurance.

To a question whether the city should be doing more to stop unpermitted companies from operating, Kathleen Butler, who enforces permits and safety rules in Portland said:

"Well, I don't know if there are a lot of unpermitted operators out there. As you say, it's prom season when we're more likely to see them coming in. Actually, in recent weeks, we've seen fewer and fewer of them than we saw, for example, last year."

Fifteen companies have permits to rent limos and party buses in the city of Portland. The city lists them on its website along with taxis, tour buses and shuttle buses.