School bus driver charged with DUI after allegedly causing crash, while drunk, with kids onboard

Driver had more than twice legal limit of alcohol in his system, authorities say
LAKE COUNTY, Ill. (WLS) -- A school bus driver has been charged with a felony DUI after allegedly causing a crash while students were onboard, the Lake County Sheriff's Office said.

The crash happened at Cuba Road and Ela Road in Deer Park on Feb. 17 at approximately 4:20 p.m. The school bus was transporting students home from Barrington School District 220's Prairie Middle School.

Sheriff's deputies arrived and verified none of the students onboard the bus were injured, nor was the driver, 61-year-old James Dolan.

Dolan was traveling northbound on Ela Road and made a left turn onto westbound Cuba Road, police said. Dolan failed to yield to oncoming traffic and made the turn in front of a southbound 2015 Chevrolet Traverse, driven by a 58-year-old Carpentersville man. The driver of the Traverse was unable to stop on the snow-covered road and struck the school bus.

Sheriff's deputies at the scene detected signs that Dolan was impaired by alcohol. Further investigation revealed Dolan had more than twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system.

"It is absolutely shameful that a professional school bus driver would put all of those children in his care at significant risk by driving drunk," said Sheriff John D. Idleburg. "We are grateful none of the students, and nobody else was injured, as the driver's horrifically poor judgement could have resulted in a tragic outcome."

Dolan requested to go to the hospital due to a medical issue and was subsequently transported to an area hospital.

After being discharged from the hospital on Feb. 20, Dolan was arrested for aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol, which is a class 4 felony. A Lake County Judge set the bond on the warrant at $100,000.

He was transported to the Lake County Jail pending an initial court hearing on February 22, 2022 at 9:00 a.m.

Barrington School District 220 has been cooperative with the sheriff's office throughout the investigation, police said. The district said it has fired Dolan, who "had previously passed all requirements of the Illinois School Code and had no prior history that would affect the driver's ability to safely operate a school bus."

"Please know that the safety of our students and staff is always our top priority and we are saddened that this happened on one of our bus routes," the district said in an emailed statement to parents and guardians.
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