Party bus sideswipes 13 vehicles, charges pending against driver

After reportedly sideswiping more than a dozen vehicles Saturday afternoon, a 45-year-old party bus driver was arrested by Chicago police in yet another example of party bus-related mayhem behind the city’s yearslong desire to call last call on party buses — and curb them for good.

Around 2:55 p.m. Saturday, the bus went careening south in the 3500 block of North Broadway, according to an online media notification from Chicago police. A video taken by an eyewitness shows the bus traveling erratically and slamming into parked cars — at one point nearly running head-on into the car from which the witness was filming, all as pedestrians shouted. The bus eventually was stopped by authorities near North Recreation Drive and North Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive, just north of Belmont Harbor, where the driver was arrested, officials said.

There were no reported injuries and charges are pending, the Chicago police notification said.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether anyone else was on the bus, and it wasn’t known whether the bus had been chartered that day. Police did not release the name of the 45-year-old driver or say with what they expected to charge him. Vehicle damage included shattered mirrors, flat tires, scrapes along car doors and bumper damage, according to published reports.

Asked whether police suspected the crashes were drug- or alcohol-related, a police spokesperson said they could not provide that information.

The party bus belonged to Black Label Limos, located in Valparaiso, Indiana, videos show. Black Label could not be reached for comment.

Party buses long have been a source of contention in Chicago.

The vehicles exist in a gray area when it comes to violence, as gun bans that apply to restaurants and bars don’t apply to vehicles, despite the fact the buses operate similarly to bars. Additionally, the city has had to crack down on illegal party bus operators in recent years.

In June 2017, a city ordinance created more stringent rules for chartered vehicles with more than 15 riders, including displaying signage to identify illegal operators, telling passengers about prohibited acts on buses and requiring drivers to have a camera and a security guard in the vehicle if alcohol was present.

Chicago Tribune editor Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas contributed.

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