Bill targets drinking on party buses

Brett Studebaker’s dreams of opening a recording studio were cut short in February when the 19-year-old died in a drunken driving accident after spending the night drinking on a party bus, according to his parents.

On Wednesday, Doug and Linda Studebaker said they hope a new bill from Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, will help curb underage drinking on party buses and prevent more deaths.

“Party buses, booze cruises, they’re deadly for our kids,” Doug Studebaker said at a news conference at Franklin Elementary School near a memorial for his son. “By speaking, we want to save lives.”

Brett Studebaker had been drinking heavily on a party bus operated by Hobo Limousine before he crashed his car Feb. 6, Hill said. Authorities say he had a blood alcohol level of 0.26, more than three times the legal limit for drivers
21 and older.

Hill’s legislation, named the Brett Studebaker Law, would require party-bus operators to verify the ages of passengers who appear under 21. If there are underage passengers, the driver would have to read a statement saying they cannot consume alcohol and have them sign the document. The ride would have to be terminated if any underage passengers are seen drinking.

An initial violation would result in a $2,000 fine and license revocation, or a misdemeanor for repeat violators.

State law already applies the rules to limousines, but Hill said his bill would apply to party-bus operators.

“I think kids and the operators of these buses know the loophole and understand it and are taking advantage of it today,” Hill said.

Also, the Studebakers have filed a lawsuit against Hobo Limousine. Damien Morozumi, an attorney for the company, said alcohol was not provided by Hobo during the Feb. 5 ride and it was not aware that anyone under 21 was drinking.

sbishop@sfexaminer.com

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