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Saturday, December 15 , 2018, 11:31 pm | Fair 47º


DA’s Office Files Charges Against Driver in Santa Barbara Party-Bus Bust

Alonzo Houston is accused of allowing minors to have alcohol and marijuana on board the chartered bus last November

D&D Limo Bus, based in Santa Barbara, advertises a “colossal” party limo bus that seats 50 passengers. A driver for the company has been charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and violating open container of alcohol Vehicle Code laws related to a Nov. 21, 2014, incident.
D&D Limo Bus, based in Santa Barbara, advertises a “colossal” party limo bus that seats 50 passengers. A driver for the company has been charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and violating open container of alcohol Vehicle Code laws related to a Nov. 21, 2014, incident. (D&D Limo Bus Facebook photo)

The bus driver who picked up dozens of alcohol-toting teenagers at Santa Barbara High School is facing criminal charges.

Alonzo Houston, 49, was the only adult in sight when officers from the Santa Barbara Police Department and California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control pounced on the chartered “party bus” that pulled onto the campus to pick up the junior high and high school students.

Houston is a driver for the Santa Barbara-based company D&D Limo Bus and has been charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor, and violating open container of alcohol Vehicle Code laws, an infraction, for the Nov. 21, 2014, incident.

The charges were filed Tuesday by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office, according to filing deputy Lee Carter.

The open container infraction is for allegedly allowing an open container of alcohol in the passenger area, not for the driver having alcohol on the bus.

No other adults have been charged in this case but two children are being prosecuted in the juvenile court system, including the 14-year-old girl who allegedly booked the bus and promoted it on social media.

As Noozhawk first reported in February, Santa Barbara police caught 62 teenagers — the youngest was 12 and the oldest 16 — in a party bus that picked up passengers at Santa Barbara High School last November.

Officers, who had been tipped to the event, observed the students drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes and marijuana, and urinating near the campus’ main entrance. When the bus arrived to pick them up around 9 p.m., the officers waited for the kids to board the bus and then busted the party.

Aboard the bus, officers found contraband “stuffed everywhere,” including bottles of hard alcohol, plastic cups, marijuana, cigarettes, condoms and markers commonly used for graffiti, according to police Sgt. Riley Harwood.

D&D Limo Bus says the booking never started since there was no chaperone on board — the bus never even started.

“It was all minors on board. There was no chaperone on board so the booking never started and would have never started,” manager Michael Jones said, adding that the company never varied from its protocols and has followed up with the Police Department regarding the Nov. 21 incident. “We will be hiring some security guards on board to start bookings from here on out.”

The bus company itself could face administrative penalties from the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates licensing for passenger carriers, including charter bus companies. Police have said they are working with investigators at the CPUC, but it's unclear if there is an active investigation into this case. 

In a Feb. 18 incident, SBPD Officer Mark Corbett pulled over a bus from the same company — with the same driver at the wheel — and found a group of underage exchange students on board with alcohol in the vehicle, police said. It’s unclear if any criminal or administrative investigation is being pursued in this second case.

Channel Drive Inc., which does business as D&D Limo Bus in Santa Barbara, has an active authority and no past investigations by the CPUC, according to public information officer Andrew Kotch. The license and insurance coverage are current.

To find out if a company has an active license and insurance coverage, search through the CPUC’s website by clicking here

D&D Limo Bus advertises a “colossal” party limo bus that seats 50 passengers and costs $600 for the first two hours and an “experience” bus that seats 25 people and costs $450 for the first two hours. The company specializes in event transport of a wide variety, including wine tours, birthday parties, quinceañeras, bachelorette parties and UC Santa Barbara fraternity and sorority events, according to its website.

Noozhawk news editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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