From January 1 next year all stretch limos in the town will have to be licensed under the new "special occasion" private hire category, as part of Rotherham
Council's commitment to public safety.
Following the huge increase in the use of such vehicles – currently there are about 40 companies advertising stretch limousine hire in the Rotherham area – the authority wants to be satisfied that the vehicles are used and operated safely.
Rotherham Licensing Board also wants to ensure that the drivers are fit and proper members of the public and are competent drivers of such vehicles.
Licensing enforcement officer Tony Minett explained that in the past these vehicles were only used for weddings and funerals.
He said: "Today, however, they are fast becoming a popular form of transport for days and nights, special occasions and school leaving parties.
"At the moment the majority of limousine drivers have not undergone any sort of criminal record check, while spot checks by our officers have revealed that alcohol is being consumed by passengers under the age of 18."
The issue has left licensing officers in a quandary because stretch limousines do not fall within any of the existing licensing criteria.
No matter how large a vehicle is, limousines are actually restricted to a maximum of eight passengers. There are no exceptions and any company that accepts a booking to carry more than eight is acting illegally.
To legally carry more passengers, vehicles must be registered as a public service vehicle and have a special certificate of fitness.
But limousines are not issued with this kind of certificate because they do not comply with the relevant requirements.
Under the law any vehicle with eight passenger seats or less being used for hire or reward must be licensed as a Hackney Carriage or a Private Hire Vehicle.
As limousines are normally pre-booked in advance for a short period of time this constitutes hire or reward so stretch limousines fall under the remit of private hire.