All limousines operating with perimeter seating — including stretch SUVs and party buses — will now need special authorization from the Passenger Transportation Board.
Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton said the new rules will also help police crack down on illegal drinking in the vehicles.
“Drinking alcohol on a party bus, limo, SUV or any other vehicle continues to be illegal and police will continue to enforce this law on B.C.’s roads," said Anton.
The changes will eliminate the competitive advantages limousine operators had that allowed them to set rates, work anywhere in the province, and add vehicles to their fleet at any time, said B.C.'s Minister of Transportation Todd Stone on Thursday in Victoria.
Under a Special Authorization, the board will regulate the licence, rates, areas of operation and fleet size, Stone said.
There will also be a thorough review of operators obtaining licenses, special licence plates and ongoing checks for compliance, said Stone.
"Licensees who currently have a General Authorization licence and want to continue to operate their perimeter seating vehicles will have until May 1, 2015, to get a Special Authorization licence," said a statement released by the ministry.
"New operators intending to use vehicles with primarily perimeter seating must apply for a Special Authorization licence effective immediately through the Board’s regular application process."