Graduation season is fast approaching, so the Government of B.C. is reminding anyone hiring a charter bus service as part of the celebrations, to keep a number of important things in mind.
First and foremost, under the Liquor Control and Licensing Act, it is illegal to consume alcohol in an unlicensed public place, including in a motor vehicle. Although some companies in B.C. market their service as “party buses,” these companies are simply offering a charter transportation service. There is no licensing category designated by the Government of B.C. that includes alcohol as part of the service provided by these companies.
On May 20, 2014, the Passenger Transportation Registrar and representatives of the RCMP, Vancouver and Abbotsford Police Departments, met with Lower Mainland companies operating “party buses”, to reinforce their legal responsibilities and ensure they have sufficient safeguards in place to provide a suitable environment for grad activities. These responsibilities include appropriate advertising of their services on websites or other media. Their advertising cannot allude to open containers of alcohol in a company-operated vehicle, which is illegal.
The industry has already responded to this directive and a number of companies have added or made more prominent on their websites, information about their alcohol prohibition policies.
RCMP and local police will be conducting focused enforcement during grad season and will continue to ticket those breaking the law, such as those consuming alcohol in an unlicensed public place, including commercial passenger vehicles or “party buses.” As well, B.C. liquor stores will be providing an informational brochure on “party buses” to customers beginning next week.
Many companies are providing safe transportation services throughout the province, but the public is encouraged to ask questions when booking a so-called “party bus” to ensure they are dealing with a company that provides a legal service that does not include alcohol.
Make sure the company you are considering is properly licensed in B.C. by looking it up on the Licensee Report on the Passenger Transportation Branch’s Registry at: http://www.th.gov.bc.ca/rpt/registry.htm
If B.C.’s Passenger Transportation Registrar, RCMP or local police receive complaints about any company operating a charter bus service in the province, the Registrar and/or police can launch an investigation. If the Registrar finds there is a risk to public safety and/or the integrity of the industry, she can impose a number of penalties, including a fine, suspension or cancellation of the company’s passenger transportation licence.
It is important to note that the Registrar is responsible for licensing the companies that operate charter buses. However, municipalities can impose restrictions on drivers operating these vehicles. Local governments are authorized under the Motor Vehicle Act to issue permits to drivers, through the chief of police or senior member of the RCMP in that municipality. A permit may include the requirement for a police record check and review of the applicant’s driving history, in accordance with municipal bylaws.
Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone -
“Graduation is a time for students to celebrate their accomplishments as they look toward the future. Making a good choice about how to get around on grad night is one of the most important decisions they’ll make all year, and the right decision can ensure safe and happy graduation celebrations.”
Minister of Justice and Attorney General Suzanne Anton -
“B.C.’s laws are clear - it is illegal to consume alcohol in a vehicle - and police will be ticketing those who choose to break the law. I encourage students to be aware of the consequences and to think seriously about their safety, and the safety of others on the road, when making graduation plans.”
RCMP “E” Division Traffic Services Inspector Ted Emanuels -
“Graduation is a significant milestone in life. Celebrating graduation should be the first day of the rest of your life and not the last. Students, teachers and parents all have responsibilities and a role to play to ensure that celebration events, formal or informal, are safe, including the transportation to and from these events.
The police in B.C. will be enforcing Liquor Act and Motor Vehicle Act legislation with the objective that everyone gets home safe. Working together we can prevent a tragedy from being part of the Class of 2014 legacy.”
ICBC Road Safety Manager Jill Blacklock -
“As we near graduation season, we’re asking parents to make sure their teens have a plan to get home safely from all of their celebrations and parties. Things don’t always go as planned, so talk to your teen about alternative options to get home safely if their ride falls through. Use real-life scenarios to help guide them on how to make smart choices and keep themselves safe.”
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Justice