Legislators to vote on party bus bill; proposed rules target underage alcohol use

Courtesy PhotoJerry Hill introduced the bill in 2010

Courtesy PhotoJerry Hill introduced the bill in 2010

A bill that would require party buses to verify the age of passengers or face fines was approved Tuesday by the state Senate’s Judiciary Committee.

The legislation, introduced by Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, will be heard by the full Senate in August.

Assembly Bill 45 was introduced as a way to regulate party buses and underage drinking. The industry is largely unregulated, Hill said in an interview earlier this week. He noted that the lack of regulation is unacceptable given the number of teens who are reportedly drinking on party buses and then driving afterward.

“In the past, bus drivers took a laissez faire attitude,” Hill said. “Now they can be criminally charged for ignoring underaged drinkers.”

Hill introduced the bill in 2010, after 19-year-old Brett Studebaker was killed in a car crash on U.S. Highway 101 on Feb. 6 of that year. He had been drinking heavily the night before on a party bus in San Francisco. After the celebration, he was dropped off at his car and tried to drive home.

If approved by the Senate in August, the bill would go to Gov. Jerry Brown. If signed into law, it would take effect in January and require bus operators to check that all patrons are of legal drinking age. A chaperone would be required to accompany any minors on board.

Drivers and operators would face $2,000 fines or revocation of their operating licenses for violating the proposed regulations.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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