For Immediate Release: February 16, 2010
Senate Puts the Brakes on Underage Drinking on Party Buses
Sen. Debbe Leftwich has won full approval from the State Senate for Senate Bill 1762. The bill cracks down on party bus companies that turn a blind eye to drunken teen passengers. Leftwich, D-Oklahoma City, filed the legislation after a high school in her district contacted her about the problem.
“Several of the teens rented a party bus, and proceeded to get very drunk while riding around and arrived at their prom completely intoxicated,” Leftwich said. “From what the students said, this wasn’t the first time they’d used this company or this particular driver. If it hadn’t been for the vigilance of school officials, these kids could well have ended up on the road later that night with tragic consequences.”
Leftwich said SB 1762 would make it illegal for a person owning or operating a hired bus or limousine service to knowingly transport minors who are drinking or in possession of alcohol or low-point beer. As approved by the committee, it would be a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $500 for the driver and for the owner of the vehicle. Those convicted of a subsequent offense would face the fine and the loss of the driver’s commercial license. In addition, the company owning the vehicle could be barred from operating in Oklahoma for one year.
“Some companies have policies to prevent this kind of behavior, but obviously not all of them do. I think if you are going to be responsible for driving teens to an event, then you’d better make sure the law is followed—especially when it comes to underage drinking,” Leftwich said.
SB 1762 now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.