Driver of bus carrying 50 kids to Wauconda school didn’t have a license, police say

A Milwaukee man who was driving a bus with 50 juveniles headed for Wauconda Middle School after a school trip early Thursday was issued several citations including not having a valid commercial driver’s license, police said.

A Lake County Sheriff’s deputy on patrol just after midnight on Route 12 near Valentine Court in North Barrington saw a 2005 bus commit improper lane usage, according to Sheriff’s Sergeant Ari Briskman.

The deputy determined the vehicle registration plates were expired and an Interstate Fuel Tax sticker required for a commercial vehicle had not been issued.

The bus was stopped and it was found Santos Popoca-Mendez, 44, had neither a commercial license nor any driver’s license, Briskman said. About 50 juveniles returning from a school trip were on the bus, which was traveling from O’Hare International Airport to Wauconda Middle School, he added.

Popoca-Mendez was arrested on charges of driving without a valid driver’s license. An employee of a local towing agency who had the necessary commercial license drove the bus from the traffic stop to the school without issue, and the juveniles were released to their guardians, according to Briskman.

Using portable scales, the deputy, who made the stop and is a commercial motor vehicle enforcement officer, found the bus to be overweight for its registration, he added.

Popoca-Mendez was taken to the Lake County jail and also cited for improper lane usage, no Interstate Fuel Tax Act sticker and the vehicle being overweight for the registration.

He was released with a notice to appear May 20 in Round Lake Beach branch court, Briskman said. Police spoke with the owner of the bus company, M & M Tours, LLC in Milwaukee. The investigation is ongoing and more charges are possible, he added.

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