Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
For Immediate Release: January 14, 2010
Sen. Debbe Leftwich
Sen. Leftwich Files Legislation Cracking
Down on Underage Drinking on Party Buses
State Sen. Debbe
Leftwich has filed legislation aimed at party bus companies
that turn a blind eye to drunken teen passengers. Leftwich said
she began working on the legislation after being contacted by officials
with Santa Fe South High School last spring.
"A group of students had rented a party bus to go to their
prom and were obviously intoxicated when they arrived. The students
were stopped from attending the dance, but there seemed to be a
gap in the law when it came to holding the company and driver responsible,"
Leftwich said. “That's what we want to address with this legislation."
Leftwich, D-Oklahoma City, said Senate Bill 1762 would make it illegal
for a person owning or operating a hired bus or limousine service
to knowingly transport minors who were drinking or in possession
of alcohol or low-point beer. Violators would face a misdemeanor
offense with a fine of up to $1,000 as well as the loss of their
commercial license. The company owning the vehicle could also lose
the ability to operate within the state.
"It's illegal for minors to drink, and no adult should enable
underage drinking--certainly not a commercial service more interested
in making a buck than protecting Oklahoma teens," Leftwich
Santa Fe South principal Chris Brewster said the company involved
made excuses for the incident, but he felt there were opportunities
for adults to intervene long before the intoxicated students arrived
at the prom. He said there should be a higher level of responsibly
required of party bus companies when it comes to transporting minors.
"One student got off that same bus looking for a prom for another
school. He was wandering around our parking lot completely drunk,
not knowing where he was supposed to be and looking for a prom that
wasn't even there. He didn't know where he was," Brewster said.
School officials intervened, but Brewster said had they not, eventually
the students could have ended up being dropped off back at their
cars and on the road drunk later that evening. "We could have
lost a student that night. As an administrator and as a parent,
it was frightening. I think the industry needs tighter controls."
SB 1762 will be considered when the 2010 session convenes in February.
For more information contact:
Sen. Leftwich: 405-521-5557