OAKLAND — What began as a routine traffic stop turned into something more when police stopped what they said was a speeding bus early Sunday morning and found 22 underage drinkers.

A group of Colby College students hired the bus to take them to and from the college to a party in the nearby town of Rome, Oakland Police Sgt. Tracey Frost said.

The bus was stopped for speeding about 1 a.m. on High Street by Oakland police Officer Bryant Laverdiere, Frost said.

Laverdiere boarded the bus to talk to the driver and noticed young people “and a definitive smell of alcohol,” Frost said.

Breathalyzer tests showed that every underage person on the bus had been drinking alcohol, Frost said, and each of the 22, who ranged in age from 18 to 20, was summoned on a charge of being a minor consuming liquor.

Two of the students,  Zoe Gaffney, 19,  of Warren Street, New York, and Robert York, 20, who was listed by his college address of Mayflower Hill Drive, Waterville, were also charged with aggravated forgery, because they gave officers false names and then signed them to their original citations, Frost said.

In general, Frost said, the students were cooperative and apologetic.

“They were very, very polite,” Frost said. “The two that gave fake names, even they weren’t impolite about it.”

The bus also held 10 students who were of legal drinking age, who were not charged with any crime.

The driver, Frost said, received only a written warning for the speeding offense, because he had a good driving record.

Frost said the offense and the names of the offenders were reported to Colby administrators, part of a longstanding cooperative relationship that has developed between the two entities in cases of underage student drinking.

“Colby does a very good job with that,” Frost said. “They’re very responsive.”

The young people are all scheduled to appear in Waterville District Court on Dec. 17. The crime is a civil offense, punishable by fines, typically about $200 for a first offense.

Over the past two years, large groups of Colby students have been charged with alcohol-related offenses a handful of times.

Such charges were brought against more than two dozen students in September 2011; 19 students in October 2011; 17 students in May of 2012, 81 students in March, and 12 students in April.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287
[email protected]