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Chicago Cracking Down On Party Buses

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The city of Chicago is cracking down on party bus operators who are not following the law.

So far this weekend, Chicago Police working with the city issued five tickets to party buses not following a city ordinance, enacted in April, that requires security guards be on board for trips with 15 passengers or more, trips that serve alcohol, or those that makes stops to drink.

"The party is over for bus operators who don't play by the rules in the city of Chicago," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said when the new ordinance was introduced. "This is a smart approach to hold problem operators accountable and boost safety on the many reputable buses throughout the city."

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Commissioner Rosa Escareno, with the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP), says this weekend follows 36 tickets given out over the summer.

"If we find you to be operating outside of the scope of your licence, we will site you, and where needed, we will work to revoke your licence," Escareno said. "Bottom line -- you are not one of our good operators and we really don't need you in Chicago."

The ordinance also increases fines for those caught operating illegally, includes new safety measures for all operators and establishes a multi-agency task force to conduct sweeps to find illegal bus operators.

Minimum fines will increase from $100 to $1,000 on the first instance, to deter unlicensed operators. The fine can increase to a minimum of $5,000 for illegal operators. Maximum fines will be raised to $10,000.

"Party buses are a popular and fun service but it's important the operators and riders play by the rules," Ald. Brendan Reilly said in a statement. "This ordinance will improve safety on these buses whether they are downtown or anywhere in Chicago."

Police said numerous shootings connected to party buses are just one reason for the increased pressure.

"We can point to a number of incidents where the lack of proper measures on party buses lead to violent crimes," Chief of Organized Crime Anthony Riccio said. "Sometimes on the bus, sometimes off the bus."

The crackdown also netted 35 tickets for valet companies operating illegally and 61 tickets for stores selling cigarettes without collecting taxes.

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