Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 45 into law Sunday, too late for 19-year-old Brett Studebaker, who died in a 2010 drunken-driving crash, but hopefully before others served drinks on a party bus suffer the same fate.
The bill, which passed unanimously in the State Senate and Assembly earlier, is aimed at stopping the availability of alcoholic beverages to underage party-goers riding on chartered buses.
It also pays tribute to Studebaker who soon after he dropped off his parents at SFO one evening in 2010 boarded a party bus to celebrate a friend's 21st birthday. The bus driver served him and other
underage kids drinks from bottles of champagne.
Doug and Linda Studebaker landed hours later in Newark, N.J., and while driving across a bridge to New York early that morning, they received a cellphone call from a deputy of the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office, who asked them to pull their car over.
"We did pull over, and he said, 'We think that your son was killed in a traffic accident,'" Doug Studebaker said Tuesday. "They thought he was not driving because his body was thrown down the road. It was a very rainy night."
But Brett had been dropped off by the party bus and was driving his Audi at 2 a.m. on Feb. 6., 2010 when he crashed into a sound wall on U.S.
Highway 101 near San Mateo and died at the scene. His blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit. A male passenger in the car was seriously
injured but survived the crash.
More than two years later, Assemblyman Jerry Hill and Brett's parents Doug and Linda gathered Tuesday at the family's home in Burlingame to
celebrate a new law aimed at tightening restrictions to prevent underage drinking on charter buses.
The bill, set to take effect Jan. 1, will require party bus companies to determine whether anyone under 21 is on the bus.
Under the law, people who reserve charter buses for parties and plan to serve alcohol must have an adult chaperone who is at least 25 years old on board to ensure that no minors are drinking. The chaperone would be legally responsible if anything were to happen to minors who were permitted to drink on the bus.
Bus companies that fail to comply with the law would face a $2,000 fine and license suspension or revocation, and drivers could be charged with a misdemeanor.
Bus drivers would be responsible for monitoring underage alcohol use on their buses, and if they find minors drinking, they must confiscate the alcohol and immediately terminate the bus trip or also face a $2,000 fine, license suspension or revocation and a misdemeanor charge.