GRAND FORKS -- Party buses containing minors making stops at rural bars are a growing problem, according to Grand Forks County Sheriff Bob Rost.
Grand Forks County deputies arrested 26 people Friday night for being minors in possession of alcohol, a Class B misdemeanor, after a party bus took them to Johnny’s Bar in Emerado. Emerado, a city of less than 500 people, is 17 miles west of Grand Forks.
The Sheriff’s Department has had similar calls to the one at Johnny’s Bar before.
“We’ve had issues with party buses at other bars,” Rost said. “Usually what happens is people who are underage will stay on the bus. The ones that are older go in the bar.”
Johnny’s Bar called the Sheriff’s Department when some of the underage people from the party bus tried to use fake IDs at the bar, Rost said. Deputies responded and discovered that 26 out of 28 people on the party bus in Emerado “were under the legal drinking age,” according to a news release the Sheriff’s Office released Monday.
Deputies found and removed “several bottles of liquor” and marijuana from the party bus.
“Properly trained bartenders are recognizing fake IDs and identifying minors more frequently,” such as what happened at Johnny’s Bar on Friday, Rost said.
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Not having ID scanners and a lack of bouncers can lead to underage drinking problems at other bars, the release said.
In addition to the rural bars being on alert, “bus drivers need to be more aware of who they’re letting on their bus,” Rost said.
“If a bus driver is hauling people on a bus, and they have alcohol, they need to ensure these guys are of age,” he said.
The Community and Campus Committee to Reduce High-Risk Alcohol Use and the Grand Forks City Council’s Service/Safety Committee are researching if party buses need to be regulated after receiving complaints about underage drinking happening on the buses, council member Ken Vein said. Grand Forks does not have an ordinance regulating party buses.
All partygoers at Johnny’s Bar said they were students at the University of North Dakota, the news release said. Most were released from jail on Saturday, according to Grand Forks County Corrections records.
“Chances are they would have been cited and released had they not been belligerent and not forthcoming with information,” Rost said. Because of that, the deputies took the 26 underage people to jail, he said.