By: Eryka Villarreal
Party buses in San Marcos are a form of transportation for people to travel to and from Austin and San Antonio. This transportation service can be seen as a safer alternative to drinking and driving.
Due to the ordinance the city is working on, companies such as Five Star Entertainment, Skyline, Lonestar, and other companies could be at risk, if any, for open container and minor in consumption violations. The ordinance will be regarding safety regulations when it comes to parking, when and where buses are able to pull to the side of the road, and the open container regulations in a commercial vehicle with multi-passengers.
According to the states legislature’s penal code for offenses against public health, safety, and morals; open containers are in exception in the passenger area of a bus, taxicab, or limousine. Party buses are not committing offenses when it comes to open containers and are not responsible for minors in consumption of alcohol since alcohol is not provided by the company.
The new rage is party buses. But these parties on wheels can come at a price. Washington’s Utilities and Transportation Commission reports that over the past four years, there have been 21 fatalities nationwide. The state’s agency regulated in-state bus companies and require paid chaperones at the age of 25 or older to supervise any party bus with riders under 21.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has zero tolerance for underage drinking. According to TABC’s Public Information Officer, Chris Porter says since ID’s are not required to board the bus and alcohol is permitted but not supplied, party bus companies aren’t committing any offenses.
“In Texas we don’t have a chaperone, one person cannot be responsible for every under age person on board the bus. Our current law right now, as written by the state legislature states, every underage person who is drinking have to have their parents permission and be present while they’re drinking or in possessing the alcohol.”
Porter says even though the companies aren’t breaking any TABC laws or statutes, minors committing these offenses could result up to 4,000 dollars in fines or up to a year in jail.
Commander for the San Marcos Police Department, Martin Manzi says situations in which there are open containers and minors are present, there is something called Constructive possession; which means an individual has control without having actual physical control of an alcoholic beverage.
For instance, if there are five people and five open cans of beer, there is a good chance one or all of them are drinking the alcohol. Another contributing factor is proximity to the alcohol and the smell of alcohol emitting from the breath.
Manzi says companies would get cited only if it’s proven that the bus operator directly provided alcohol to a minor.
“If the party bus is not engaging in any sale or serving of alcohol, they’re not abound of any TABC regulations or licenses. they’re just transporting a means of transportation from point A to point B. I know the city of San Marcos is working an ordinance right now regulating all commercial type multi-passenger vehicles which is all types of buses.”
While discussing rules and regulations with the communications specialist for the city, the city ordinance is not only regarding safety regulations, but may include open container rules for commercial vehicles.