Many Marijuana/Alcohol Tour Buses You See Are Ignoring Portland Laws

Posted on behalf of RizkLaw on Jun 17, 2019 in Consumer Alerts

top of party busIt has been nearly seven years since an 11-year-old girl died in downtown Portland while riding on a party bus to a quinceanera. The girl fell out of one of the bus’s windows and was fatally injured.

The company that was operating the bus did not have the required city permits, and unfortunately, the problem of tour/party bus operators ignoring city regulations has only gotten worse as many more of these vehicles have hit the streets in recent years without the required permits, according to a recent article in Willamette Week.

Part of the reason for the increase may be the legalization of recreational marijuana use, which became official in Oregon on July 1, 2015. Since that time, companies have sprung up offering tours of local dispensaries and some of these companies allow customers to consume marijuana on the buses they are riding in.

If you are planning to hop on one of these tour/party buses for a good time, you should educate yourself on the safety regulations these vehicles and the companies that operate them are subject to in Portland. If a company is ignoring regulations and permit requirements, you could be putting yourself and your friends in serious danger by getting into one of these company’s vehicles.

What is the Scope of the Problem?

Willamette Week reviewed records and determined there are at least 25 companies offering tour pickups in the city even though they do not have the permits required by Portland’s Private For-Hire Transportation Program (PFHT), which is part of the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT). There are just 16 tour companies that are listed as having the required permits. Unfortunately, the numbers of compliant and non-compliant companies are similar when you look at limousines and party buses.

Tour companies have continued to ignore regulations even though strong efforts are being made to catch violators. Being aggressive in finding violators is very important because companies do not often contact regulators to let them know they are breaking the law, says a spokesman for PBOT.

PBOT has been busy being proactive: regulators have given out 31 fines, suspended two permits and sent a cease-and-desist letter twice in three years. There are also a total of 27 open investigations of tour bus companies by PBOT.

One of the main reasons why companies are disregarding the rules is that permits are not required outside of Portland and their tour buses are only in Portland for a short time. These companies are simply unaware of the requirements for operating in Portland.

Regulations for Party/Tour Buses in Portland

In Portland, party buses and tour buses fall under the LPT Vehicles designation under Private For-Hire Transportation Regulations. LPT stands for limousine, party bus, charter bus, tour bus, or custom multi-passenger vehicle.

A vehicle is considered a party bus if it is a van or luxury bus that was modified to carry at least 10 people and has a gross vehicle weight of less than 26,000 pounds that is used mainly for the purposes of recreation and/or sightseeing.

Many of the buses offering tours of marijuana dispensaries fit this description, as do the buses that can be rented out for private parties and brewery tours.

LPT companies are required to obtain a permit to operate within the city of Portland. PBOT certifies that all LPT company vehicles and drivers meet all certification and operating requirements. Permits are not issued unless the LPT company has valid registration with the Secretary of State.

There are city permit fees that must be paid and companies must pay civil penalty fines, otherwise permits will not be issued.

There are numerous other regulations about insurance, vehicle certification and vehicle operating requirements. For instance, vehicles cannot be more than 10 years old. LPT companies must also have commercial business insurance with $1 million in coverage for each claim and $2 million for multiple claims that arise out of bodily injury and property damage.

What to Look for on a Party Bus

You may be asking yourself how to determine if a party bus has followed the law. Fortunately, LPT vehicles are required to display decals on the front and back windows showing the vehicle is properly permitted.

You should also make sure the full name of the company is prominently displayed, along with a company-assigned vehicle number and the phone number of the company where you can request services.

Drivers of these vehicles must also comply with various conduct requirements and prohibitions while operating these vehicles.

Contact Our Experienced Attorneys about Party Bus Injuries

Were you or a loved one injured while on a party or tour bus?

The companies that operate these vehicles often do not comply with regulations in the city of Portland, putting passengers at risk. Our Portland personal injury lawyers may be able to help you take legal action to pursue compensation for your damages.