Party bus crackdown results in 125 tickets, recovery of 11 illegal weapons

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A party bus crackdown has resulted in 125 tickets and the recovery of 11 illegal weapons since June, officials said.

New Year's Eve revelers might want to check that their party bus operator is properly licensed before they celebrate Sunday night.

Officials said that the new rules went into effect June 1 have reduced violence and drug crimes related to the rentals.

"If you're planning to book a party bus, please make sure they are properly licensed, otherwise you and your friends could literally be left out in the cold," said Rosa Escareno, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.

Since the crackdown, 125 tickets and 28 cease and desist orders have been issued, authorities said. According to officials, 11 illegal weapons have also been removed from party buses that were operating illegally.

The new laws require passengers to be provided with a summary of what constitutes illegal activity on a bus, such as unlawful possession of guns or drugs, officials said. Buses must also provide security guards if alcohol is present or the group makes multiple stops and be clearly marked as a charter or sightseeing vehicle, officials said. About 300 licensed vehicles offer their services in Chicago.

"Ninety-nine percent of the companies out there are great companies, legitimate companies, you just have this small percentage of two or three bad players that might have one or two buses that are causing all the problems," said Arthur Rento, Pontarelli Companies.

CHECK BEFORE RENTING

Renters can verify that their bus is in compliance with the new laws through the public passenger vehicle license database at data.cityofchicago.org. In the search window, type "public vehicles." On the next screen, click on the "public passenger vehicle license" link. Then, click on "Explore Data" to get a drop-down menu. Click "View Data."

Click here to go straight to the public vehicle section of the data portal.

In the search box on the right (above export, discuss, embed) type "charter-sightseeing" The results will populate the screen. To filter for "active" licensees, scroll over to the "status" column; click on the dashes to the right of the dot. When the window drops down click on "Filter this Column" then click on "Active." All currently licensed charter sightseeing licensees will appear.

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