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Family Of Crash Victim Plead For Party Bus Regulations

BURLINGAME (BCN) - The parents of a 19-year-old Burlingame man who died in a crash after getting drunk on a "party bus" joined a local lawmaker Wednesday to announce legislation that aims to regulate underage drinking on charter vehicles.

KCBS' Mark Seelig Reports:

Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, stood in the rain alongside the family of Brett Studebaker to discuss AB 45, a law that would impose fines, revoke business licenses and enforce criminal charges on the operators of charter vehicles who look the other way when underage passengers consume alcohol on their vehicles.

Party buses currently operate in a loophole of drinking laws, Hill said.

Since alcohol isn't typically served on a bus, the operators aren't required to check identification of their passengers.

"The problem is that party buses aren't regulated," Hill said.

On Feb 5, 2010, Studebaker spent several hours onboard a party bus to celebrate a friend's 21st birthday.

Though still a teenager, Studebaker drank until his blood-alcohol level was .26, more than three times the legal limit.

At 2 a.m., the charter bus operators dropped off the passengers along with Studebaker, who got into his Audi and attempted to drive home.

"Brett was seriously inebriated," his father Doug said at the news conference.

About 30 minutes later, Studebaker collided with a sound wall and struck two other vehicles on U.S. Highway 101, according to the California Highway Patrol. He was killed in the crash.

Linda and Doug Studebaker said their son was kind, thoughtful and fun-loving as they underlined the need to regulate underage drinking on charter vehicles.

"We're here to deliver this message," Doug Studebaker said. "Party buses and booze cruises are deadly for our kids."

Under AB 45, charter bus operators would be required to read a statement to passengers that drinking under the age of 21 is against state law. All underage passengers would be required to sign the statement, Hill said.

If one is caught drinking while on the vehicle, the bus trip would be terminated and passengers would be driven back and dropped off at the starting point.

The new law, if enacted, will be named in memory of Brett Studebaker, Hill said.

His parents called the gesture "an especially fitting tribute."

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report.)

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