California Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation that is designed to cut down on underage drinking on chartered party buses. Under the new law, party buses with alcohol and underage passengers will need chaperones and ID checks.
According to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, starting on January 1, party bus companies are required to ask customers during booking if there will be underage passengers, and whether alcohol will be served. If they say yes, the customer must choose a chaperone age 25 or older to check IDs. The chaperone must also inform passengers that if alcohol is found, the trip will end.
Once the trip is underway, the chaperone must notify the bus driver if underage passengers are drinking alcohol, and the bus must return to the starting point. Chaperones are also responsible for ensuring that any passengers suspected of drinking make it home safely. They can face misdemeanor penalties for breaking any of the rules.
Bus drivers also have new responsibilities under the law. On buses with underage passengers where there is supposed to be no alcohol, drivers must check for alcohol if they suspect it is on board. If they find it, they must end the trip, unless they lock the alcohol under the bus. Those drivers who break the rules can face a misdemeanor charge. The party bus company can be fined up to $2,000, and face a 30-day suspension of their license, or a revocation.
In one recent incident near Santa Cruz, California, a fight broke out on a party bus between two young adults, who fell out of the moving bus. One died. Everyone onboard, except the driver, was drunk.