Drinking Liability Bill Troubles Party Bus Operators

Posted on January 5, 2011 by LCT Staff - Also by this author - About the author

Emerging California legislation raises a key question: Does it make sense for chauffeurs of party buses to serve as bouncers, too?

SAN MATEO, Calif. — A San Francisco party bus operator agrees that underage drinking should not be allowed in his vehicles but contends the drivers should not be punished for the irresponsible acts of others.

A new law being proposed by Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, will require party bus drivers to check identifications and require passengers under 21 to sign an agreement not to drink just like limousine drivers currently are required to do.

William Low, who manages out of San Francisco, wonders how Hill’s law will be enforced and said drivers should be focused on driving and not policing underage drinkers.

“The person who signed the contract should be responsible. It is too much distraction for the driver to have to enforce this,” Low said. Assembly Bill 45, the Brett Studebaker Law, will require the bus operator to terminate the contract and return passengers to the point of origin if anyone underage is seen drinking alcohol.

AB 45 is named after a 19-year-old Burlingame man who died in a car crash on Highway 101 in February after celebrating a friend’s birthday on a party bus. Studebaker’s blood-alcohol level was .26, more than three times the legal limit for adults. Studebaker died about 30 minutes after departing the party bus after 2 a.m. Feb. 6. He crashed his car into a soundwall on Highway 101 before colliding with another car.


GREATER CALIFORNIA LIVERY ASSOCIATION President Mark Stewart said the association has sent a request to meet with Assemblyman Jerry Hill so GCLA representatives can discuss the proposed changes in the current PUC code relating to minors and alcohol.

“The GCLA is more than happy to sit down and discuss changes in the code that benefits public safety, and at the same time protecting operators from regulatory and liability burdens that would hold them responsible for behavior beyond their control,” Stewart said.

In a separate matter, Los Angeles police have been cracking down on ILLEGAL PARTY BUS AND LIMOUSINE OPERATORS in Hollywood and areas popular with clubbers.

California AB2572, passed last year, now allows any police entity to impound a vehicle of an unlicensed operator anywhere within the state.

Sources: The Daily Journal (San Mateo, Calif.); MSNBC; Martin Romjue, LCT Magazine

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