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Driver in Times Square tour bus crash had 11 license suspensions

By Laila Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A driver in the double-decker tour bus crash in Times Square that injured at least 14 people was barred from his job amid questions about how he was allowed behind the wheel with 11 previous license suspensions, officials said on Thursday.

William Dalambert, 58, was driving a Gray Lines open-top tour bus on Tuesday when it slammed into the rear of another passenger bus and knocked down a traffic light pole that struck several people on a crowded sidewalk on its way down.

"As the investigation continues to move forward and while we conduct our own thorough internal review, the driver from Tuesday's accident will remain suspended,” Twin America, which operates both buses involved in the incident, said in a statement on Thursday.

Dalambert was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of driving while ability impaired, but a day later the Manhattan District Attorney's office deferred the charges after preliminary drug and alcohol tests came back negative, district attorney spokeswoman Joan Vollero said in a statement.

The district attorney is awaiting a full toxicology report before deciding whether to prosecute, Vollero added.

Dalambert, a New Jersey resident, has had his license suspended 11 times since 2008, most recently in November 2013 for failing to pay unspecified violation fees, New Jersey Motor Vehicles Commision spokeswoman Sandy Grossman said. Dalambert's registration also has been suspended nine times in the past two decades, Grossman said.

Twin America did not immediately respond to Reuters questions on Thursday about its background check policy for drivers and whether it would check its other drivers' records after the Times Square crash.

There is no indication whether the license suspensions were for violations on the job or during personal driving time, Grossman said.

Dalambert's license allows him to operate vehicles for a range of commercial purposes, including transporting passengers and hauling hazardous materials, and drive tanker trucks, triple-wide trailers and school buses, Grossman said.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Mohammad Zargham)

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