While party buses are a good way to have fun and see a local area with friends, they also can pose a danger if riders and companies don’t take precautions.
In 2018, a woman in Norfolk died after falling off a party bus, according to local reports. In Greater Williamsburg, there are precautions put in place, said Stephanie Williams, spokeswoman for the James City County Police Department.
Local companies, such as Drink Williamsburg, follow the proper regulations.
Drink Williamsburg is an alcohol touring company that offers locals and tourists the opportunity to experience the area through various breweries and drinking locations, according to the company’s news release.
In November, the company launched its first “Holiday Lights and Tastings Tour,” per the request of previous guests, said Matt Mason, the company’s manager. The tour was designed to take guests through a variety of holiday-themed food and drink spots in the area while getting to view an assortment of local Christmas lights through Dec. 23.
The tour bus sits a maximum of 14 people and provides guests with snacks and control of the music. But guests must remain seated as they would in any motor vehicle, Mason said.
Williams said open container laws would not apply to that type of vehicle, because the driver would not be drinking. Even so, the Drink Williamsburg bus doesn’t allow people to bring drinks on the bus during tours, regardless.
That’s because the company makes safety a top priority, Mason said.
During a tour, guests are not bringing alcohol from the establishments onto the bus, Mason said. In addition, if the bus driver notices a guest has become too intoxicated, they will cut them off from drinking the rest of the tour, similar to what a bartender would do.
Williams said laws regarding drunk in public and all traffic laws would still be applicable to the guests as they get on and off the bus and eventually once the tour has ended.
That’s why Drink Williamsburg also sells “designated driver” tickets so large parties can plan to have safe and responsible rides home. The tour also encourages people to look into ride-share opportunities or ways to have friends and family pick them up and drop them off.
But during the tour, guests are also advised to drink responsibly when going from stop to stop. If they don’t, Mason said the managers at the various locations typically know how to respond.
“When you go to breweries, the people there are very experienced in handling people drinking,” he said. “All of the stops are knowledgeable on what is and isn’t permitted.”
The company has been operating since 2016 and hasn’t had many issues with handling guests drinking irresponsibly — that’s part of what allows the company to continue offering new experiences, such as the holiday tour.
“We are always worried about customer experience,” Mason said. “Once customers are happy and safe, the rest of the business’s success takes care of itself.”