September 21st, 2013 at 9:18 pm
Jill Beebe, 42, of South Elgin, was charged in mid-September for operating a school bus under the influence of alcohol, according to the Chicago Tribune. Beebe’s bond was set at $100,000 after a school employee smelled alcohol on her breath when letting students off at a West Chicago school. “The school district contacted the bus company that employs Beebe, which ordered her to stop operating the bus,” the Tribune reports. “A police officer arrived and administered field sobriety tests and then arrested the driver,” according to a news release cited by the Tribune. Getting behind the wheel of a school bus while intoxicated carries an even higher punishment than behind the wheel of a car. According to the Tribune, Beebe is now facing charges of Aggravated DUI, which is a felony, punishable of up to three years in prison.
The number of incidents involving school bus drivers operating the vehicle while intoxicated has risen in recent years, or at least garnered more media attention than in decades past. In fact, earlier this year a bill was proposed in New York state that would “greatly expand random drug and alcohol testing for school bus drivers while also imposing stronger penalties on intoxicated school bus drivers,” according to School Transportation News. The bill came after at least four incidents were reported in New York involving school bus drivers who were arrested for DUI, “including a much-publicized incident when the driver crashed his bus into a Syosset home while transporting five young students,” reports School Transportation News.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and reported in the 2013 Illinois DUI Fact Book, “an average of one alcohol-impaired driving fatality occurs every 53 minutes.” In Beebe’s instance the driver was apprehended before any accident occurred, but operating a school bus (or transporting any child under the age of 16) is considered an automatic Aggravated DUI charge regardless if anyone was injured or not.
If you or someone you know has been charged with DUI, don’t go through it alone. Contact a dedicated Illinois DUI attorney today.