California Assemblyman Jerry Hill sponsored a bill that requires party bus companies to be responsible for their passengers, including minors who drink on board the bus, and soon it will be the law. Assembly Bill 45, which passed both the state senate and assembly without opposition late last month, was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown over the weekend.
Party buses have become an increasingly popular place for youth to drink, while unsupervised. Often, parents pay for these party buses, yet no adult accompanies them.
The new law, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, will require bus companies to check IDs to determine if anyone is under the age of 21 is on the bus. Patrons who plan to have alcohol on the bus, must have an adult chaperone, who is at a minimum of 25 years old, to ensure that no minors are drinking.
Once the trip begins, the chaperone also will be responsible for notifying the bus driver if underage passengers are consuming alcohol. If it’s found that anyone under the age of 21 is caught drinking, the bus must return to where it started. The chaperone also has to make sure anyone suspected of drinking makes it home safely. Chaperones can also face misdemeanor penalties if they break the laws. The chaperone also has to make sure anyone suspected of drinking makes it home safely.
This puts the responsibility on both the chaperone and the drivers and owners of the party bus companies. This bill comes in the wake of the deaths of a Santa Cruz woman who died after falling out of a party bus in July and a 19-year old man who dies in a collision after drinking on a party bus in 2010.
In recent years, the party bus industry has expanded and not kept up with the times, Hill said in August. “These buses are essentially ‘booze cruises’ — parties on wheels with dance floors, neon lighting, sound systems, lounging areas and dancing poles.”
Youths from Marin County often have party buses rented for trips to San Francisco, for special events including birthdays and proms.
The Novato Blue Ribbon Coalition for Youth is to positively impact the well-being of Novato youth through community action, policy advocacy and education. This shall be accomplished by: reducing alcohol and marijuana use and reducing the incidences of bullying.