The American Bus Association (ABA) praised the efforts of the California Bus Association (CBA) for its diligence and tenacity in working with state law enforcement and elected officials to pass the toughest laws yet cracking down on outlaw operators imperiling public safety, which were signed by the governor into law this week.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) signed both bills passed by the California State Assembly, AB 636 and 951, aimed at strengthening the penalties against charter bus companies and drivers who choose to ignore or violate safety and licensing laws. AB 636 empowers the state to pull the license of any charter bus driver who operates a bus without the appropriate driver's license, endorsement or certificate. The law also strips these drivers of the right to ever receive a license to operate any type of bus again in the state.
Additionally, the bill revokes the charter of any bus company that either operates a bus without the proper permit or knowingly hires a bus driver who does not have the necessary license, endorsement or certificate to operate a charter bus. Finally, the bill gives the California Highway Patrol the authority to impound any bus if it does not have the proper permit or the driver does not have the appropriate license, endorsement or certificate to drive the vehicle.
The following penalties will be increased: a $7,500 civil penalty (from $5,000); a $1,000 reinstatement fee (from $125); a $1,500-$7,000 penalty for operating with a suspended certificate or permit for each day in violation (from $1,000-$5,000); a $1,000-$5,000 fine for any bus company that violates or fails to comply with the law (from a $1,000 maximum fine); a $2,000 maximum fine for anyone besides the bus company who violates charter-party carrier laws or regulations (from $1,000); a $10,000 fine for operating a bus without a certificate or permit for first time offenders, and a $25,000 fine for subsequent offenders (currently $1,500 for first time and $2,500 for second time offenders).
“ABA applauds California for enacting such important legislation, which helps to distinguish law-abiding, responsible operators from rogue or reincarnated operators who imperil public safety,” said ABA President/CEO Peter Pantuso. “ABA applauds the CBA, which showed the power of grassroots activism at the state level.”