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Old 08-18-2014, 06:44 PM   #1
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Legal Requirements for Party Skoolies

Hi all! Very happy to be a new member to this site/forum! With that being said let me fire off my first major question.

I have been looking for information (laws) on what is required for converting a school bus into a party bus. I know this is extremely dependent on what state you're living in but I'm assuming that a lot of states are somewhat similar. I'm trying to convert my 1998 International school bus into a party bus. So far, I have completely re-outfitted the bus in the following ways:
-Bus has been legally titled as a "motor home" and is currently insured with the standard RV coverage rate of $1 million.
-Has living quarters, cooking area, bathroom and other requirements to make it comply with being an RV.
-School bus decals, stop lights, stop arms, yellow paint (and all other "school bus" specific items have been removed).

With that being said, what other requirements will I need to have in order to rent this bus out and allow individuals (over 21 of course) to consume "their own" alcohol on the bus. I am not interested in selling or distributing any alcohol so I'm thinking that will keep me away from needing a liquor licence. I'm guessing I'm going to run into some problems around Department of Transportation (DOT) laws with being "for hire" or something. Also, I currently have a chauffeurs licence, but I keep hearing that because the bus has air brakes and a GVW of 31,000 lbs I may need a CDL with a "P" endorsement, and then other people are saying that because the bus is no longer a "school bus" you can skate by without the CDL "P" endorsement?

Thanks for the info, lets see who knows their stuff out there!
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Old 08-19-2014, 09:14 AM   #2
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Re: Legal Requirements for Party Skoolies

I think that you probably need to figure out what implications the "for hire" status have in your particular state. I know that in my state, a skoolie doesn't require a CDL license - even if it has air brakes - because it's considered a recreational vehicle.

The hardest part will entail lining up the laws pertaining to DOT compliance, insurance coverage and the whole alcohol thing. The insurance side alone will probably present its own challenges. Many insurance companies argue about how to insure a skoolie, but then add to the mix the fact that you will need commercial liability insurance for the bus (as well as a business policy for the LLC or business you are starting) and you're probably looking at a fair amount of legwork for this step alone. Then you have to coordinate everything with the DOT and make sure that you meet all the standards for a vehicle for hire as well as a large bus-type vehicle. If the DOT classifies the vehicle differently than your insurance company, that could be a problem.

The best thing you could do is fine a party-bus service (one that seems like it does a fair amount of business, is listed in the Yellow Pages, doesn't have lawsuits pending, etc. haha) and ask them if they would share their knowledge with you. People somewhere have this figured out as lots of places have a party bus services. It's just finding the appropriate source of knowledge and making everything come together.
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Old 08-19-2014, 02:03 PM   #3
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Re: Legal Requirements for Party Skoolies

Thanks Sara I appreciate the info, that's a good point I will most likely have to jump through a number of hoops with the state's DOT, maybe I'll work on that next.
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Old 08-19-2014, 07:08 PM   #4
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Re: Legal Requirements for Party Skoolies

Sara is right,
You will need at least a bus driver license, in texas it would be called a class b cdl license,
You will need to re-title it as a private bus or something similar,
Private/commercial bus insurance,
Cooking facilities might need to be removed or they will probably need to be certified commercial,
Different bus inspections probably apply,
Business license, tax ID number, specific bus operator license from the state.

I can imagine that if you get in a wreck with the bus titled as a Rv but carrying paying customers any insurance you have would be cancelled and not pay a dime thereby leaving you personally liable,

If you could get a look inside a currently operating party bus it will probably have the necessary licenses posted, might be able to get the same info from a local party buses web site.
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Old 08-19-2014, 07:53 PM   #5
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Re: Legal Requirements for Party Skoolies

CDLs are now Federally unified to keep the riff-raff off the road.

If you are driving for hire, you need a CDL and a valid medical certificate, probably even if it is a taxi.
If it is 26,000 lbs gross weight or less, you need a CDL "C" with passenger endorsement, and air brake endorsement if equipped. If it is 26,001 lbs or more gross weight on a straight frame, and you move up to a CDL "B." Of course, a truck-trailer or tractor-trailer CDL Class "A" with passenger endorsement will work just fine.

I don't know if this is the State rule here or part of the Federal law, but the gross weight on a commercial vehicle is considered the heaviest of:
- the design weight on the chassis manufacturer's data plate
- the weight above the design weight you have registered the vehicle for
- the weight on the scales as you drive on them fully loaded

It is a Federal exemption that allows private RVs to be driven without a CDL, but a few states want added endorsements for the biggest rigs or maybe air brakes.
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Old 08-20-2014, 09:17 AM   #6
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Re: Legal Requirements for Party Skoolies

Quote:
Originally Posted by Redbear
I don't know if this is the State rule here or part of the Federal law, but the gross weight on a commercial vehicle is considered the heaviest of:
- the design weight on the chassis manufacturer's data plate
- the weight above the design weight you have registered the vehicle for
- the weight on the scales as you drive on them fully loaded
The law is the same here in Iowa.
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Old 08-20-2014, 07:05 PM   #7
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Re: Legal Requirements for Party Skoolies

Any bus will require a Class B with passenger endorsement. Weight doesn't matter in CA. A Ford E350 requires a Class B if used for the commercial transport of passengers. The cutoff is 9 plus the driver for Class C. Commercial insurance is required, not RV insurance. Title will need to be changed to commercial in CA. Operating authority from the PUC is required. Drug testing is required. Enrollment in the DMV driver pull notice program is required. Enrollment in annual CHP inspection is required. Proper signage and safety equipment is required. I'm sure I forgot something. The patience of a Saint is absolutely required. Driving drunks sucks big time. Everything I wrote is for California. Your mileage may vary. Good luck in your new venture.
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Old 08-31-2014, 08:52 PM   #8
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Re: Legal Requirements for Party Skoolies

I am interested in doing the same thing. One obstacle I am up against is the Ca air resource board making it illegal to operate commercially without a 2010 engine replacement. I was wondering if anyone has any advice out there. The loopholes I am looking into is whether I can keep it registered as a motorhome while its being used commercially? Another angle would be registered "historic." Any and all knowledge is appreciated
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Old 09-04-2014, 10:41 PM   #9
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Re: Legal Requirements for Party Skoolies

Quote:
Originally Posted by mgahan24
I am interested in doing the same thing. One obstacle I am up against is the Ca air resource board making it illegal to operate commercially without a 2010 engine replacement. I was wondering if anyone has any advice out there. The loopholes I am looking into is whether I can keep it registered as a motorhome while its being used commercially? Another angle would be registered "historic." Any and all knowledge is appreciated
Nope.
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Old 10-14-2014, 08:26 PM   #10
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Re: Legal Requirements for Party Skoolies

Quote:
Originally Posted by mgahan24
I am interested in doing the same thing. One obstacle I am up against is the Ca air resource board making it illegal to operate commercially without a 2010 engine replacement. I was wondering if anyone has any advice out there. The loopholes I am looking into is whether I can keep it registered as a motorhome while its being used commercially? Another angle would be registered "historic." Any and all knowledge is appreciated
Have you found any luck with this? I am in the same situation.
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