Tragic Bus Accident Raises Questions

The Chicago Tribune reported that the driver of a tour bus in Chicago struck and killed a pedestrian, and a blood test following the accident was positive for cocaine. The bus driver is now being held without bail and likely facing charges of D.U.I. and Aggravated Vehicular Homicide. This tragic incident highlights the issues of driving under the influence of drugs, vehicular homicide, and commercial drivers.

When we hear a bus driver was charged with D.U.I., most people think of driving under the influence of alcohol. Under Ohio Law, an O.V.I. (same as D.U.I.), can be committed with drugs in two ways: (1) operate a vehicle under the influence of a drug of abuse; and (2) operate a vehicle with a prohibited concentration of a drug in one’s blood or urine (for cocaine, the prohibited concentration is 150 nanograms). The penalties for O.V.I.-drugs are the same as the penalties for O.V.I.-alcohol.

The bus driver will also likely be charged with the Illinois equivalent of Ohio’s Aggravated Vehicular Homicide law. A person is guilty of this offense if the person causes the death of another person by driving recklessly or operating a vehicle under the influence. The penalties for Aggravated Vehicular Homicide include a prison sentence up to eight years and a lifetime driver’s license suspension.

The bus accident also involves consequences for the driver’s commercial driver’s license (CDL). In Ohio, a commercial driver found operating with a prohibited concentration of alcohol or drugs will have an immediate license suspension with no driving privileges for commercial vehicles. If the commercial driver is convicted of an O.V.I., there is a one-year CDL disqualification.

It turns out the bus driver involved in this tragic accident had prior traffic violations, had served time in prison for sexual assault, and had additional sexual assault charges filed after the accident. It makes one wonder what kind of background check was done before he was hired to drive a tour bus and be responsible for the well-being of so many people.