San Francisco Entertainment Commission | San Francisco Travel Blog
We have blogged quite a bit over the last several months about a proposed law that would toughen regulations and penalties for allowing underage drinking on party buses. The “party bus” law would close existing loopholes in California law that apply to alcohol consumption in limousines and other types of transportation and make it illegal for minors to drink alcohol while on board party buses. After debate in the State Assembly and Senate, Assembly Bill 45 passed both houses of the legislature and was recently signed into law by Governor Brown.
You may remember that the bill was introduced by Assemblyman Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) after a couple of tragic and irresponsible accidents involving excessive alcohol consumption aboard party buses. Beginning Jan.1, 2013, party buses carrying minors will be required to have a chaperone on board to ensure no underage drinking occurs. If minors do consume alcohol while riding in a party bus, chaperones could face criminal charges. Chauffeurs and party bus rental services can also get into trouble if minors drink on board party buses. Chauffeurs with three such violations could face misdemeanor charges, and party bus operators would face fines up to $2,000 for the first two offenses and have their licenses revoked for three or more violations.
The two fatal accidents prompted Assemblyman Hill to introduce this legislation.
"These incidents caused me to say, why could these things be happening?" Hill explained recently to reporters. "When these tragedies occurred a couple of years ago, what this new legislation hoped to do was to close that loophole and provide the same restrictions on buses as it does to limousines."
Many bar owners in San Francisco have banned party buses from their establishments after growing tired of party buses dropping off drunken riders at their businesses.
"Most clubs I know say ‘no’ to party buses," Steven Lee, owner of The Grand nightclub and member of the San Francisco Entertainment Commission. "People do all their drinking on the buses and it’s not a benefit to the club. We have to deal with all the security and all the hassle without any of the benefit."
As we have stated many times before, the new law won’t change our policies on underage drinking or rowdy behavior on our Bay Area limos, party buses, limo buses, luxury coaches and other types of transportation. The safety of our guests has always been and always will be our primary consideration, and we do not tolerate any illegal or reckless behavior. Our other consideration is that each of our guests has a fun, comfortable, memorable and affordable limo experience! If we sound like your idea of a professional and responsible San Francisco party bus service, call us at NLS Limo today at 800-339-8936 to reserve one for your next special occasion.
A bill introduced recently in the California legislature would require San Francisco party bus operators and others throughout the state to check the identification of anyone coming aboard the bus or face steep fines. Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, introduced Assembly Bill 45 in 2010 after a tragic incident involving an inebriated 19-year-old man who allegedly got drunk while riding in a Bay Area party bus. After the party bus rental was over, the man got into his car and caused an accident in which he was killed. If passed, the bill will close a loophole that allows some limousine services to allow underage guests to drink alcohol while riding in the party van.
“This is essentially booze cruises on wheels,” Hill said recently during an appearance on Polk Street, home to several popular clubs that frequently attract party buses and revelers.
The law would require all party bus rental companies to verify that each guest is 21 or older before boarding the vehicle. If a minor is on board, he or she must be accompanied by a chaperone older than 25, and there can be no alcoholic beverages. Party bus operators who fail to follow regulations would face fines up to $2,000 and lose their licenses.
“This is about holding party buses accountable,” Hill said. “These buses have become a problem for businesses and owners.”
Last month, we featured a blog post about San Francisco club owners and other business owners who organized a ban on party buses at their establishments. They filed a complaint with the San Francisco Entertainment Commission regarding drunken and unruly crowds being dropped off by party buses and causing problems in their businesses and neighborhoods. Like many other San Francisco limousine services that rent party buses, we feel that the club owners, city officials and lawmakers have a legitimate complaint. There are a few operators in the Bay Area who use the current loophole in the law and allow underage guests to drink aboard their vehicles. They cast our company and the other ethical and responsible Bay Area limo companies in a bad light.
Whether the law passes or not, our position on underage drinking will not change. We want all our guests to have a wonderful time while they enjoy our party buses, limo buses and other luxury vehicles, but we do not allow any guests less than 21 years of age to drink alcohol. We take the safety of all our guests very seriously, and this policy has been in place from the very beginning. If we sound like the type of San Francisco party bus service you would like transporting you and your guests to an upcoming special occasion, please call us at NLS Limo today at 800-339-8936.
Club owners recently held a public meeting where they aired their grievances with San Francisco party buses and the rowdy behavior of some party bus guests. They claim that a never-ending stream of drunken revelers pull up outside their clubs in party vans most evenings and cause a variety of problems. Many are saying enough is enough and have banned Bay Area party buses from dropping off guests at their clubs.
"As someone who has put on events in San Francisco for 20 years, party buses are just bad news," said Chris Smith, owner of Om Records and co-owner of Monarch, a popular nightclub in the SoMa neighborhood. "We don’t allow party buses at Monarch. If one comes up to our club, it’s getting towed."
Other club owners voiced similar complaints at the community meeting organized by the Tenderloin’s Community Leadership Alliance.
Steven Lee is the owner of popular nightclub The Grand and also a member of the San Francisco Entertainment Commission. He also said that party buses have been a persistent problem outside his club.
"Most clubs I know say ‘no’ to party buses," he said. "People do all their drinking on the buses and it’s not a benefit to the club. We have to deal with all the security and all the hassle without any of the benefit."
He echoed other club owners who said that drunken party bus guests were responsible for causing problems inside and outside their establishments.
One San Francisco party bus service owner took issue with club owners blaming all operators for the actions of a few limo services with lax control.
"We station security on all of our buses and we limit people to two complementary drinks per passenger," she said. "I think it’s important to have management on board supervising what’s happening."
In addition to irresponsible Bay Area party bus providers, a big part of the problem is lax laws that govern behavior on party vans. While there are strict regulations on guest behavior while riding in limousines, there are few regulations on party buses, a relatively recent but increasingly popular mode of group transportation. South Bay Assemblyman Jerry Hill agreed with club owners, saying that the city needs to write and enforce tougher regulations about behavior on party buses.
"The growing popularity of party buses requires that the law keep pace with the trend," said Hill in a statement. "These are really rolling bars — and teenagers should not be allowed to drink on them."
We are saddened and unhappy that the actions (or inactions) of a few Bay Area party van providers are casting our limousine service and those of other ethical businesspeople in a bad light. In accordance with California law, we never allow minors to drink in any of our luxury vehicles and ask all our guests to respect our vehicles, other guests and clubs and neighborhoods where we drop them off. If you’re thinking about renting a San Francisco party bus for an upcoming event but prefer to do business with a limo service that puts the safety of its guests above all other considerations, call us at NLS Limo today at 800-339-8936.