According to a recent news article from People, a school bus driver in California was recently arrested on suspicion of drunk driving with 28 students on her bus. Authorities alleged the 24-year-old female driver was clearly and obviously intoxicated at the time of her arrest.
Witnesses say the bus driver was taking children home after school on Friday afternoon when her bus managed to get stuck on a small dirt road in a manner that was blocking all traffic. When authorities arrived to see what the trouble with the bus was, they say they immediately detected a strong odor of alcohol on her breath.
When she was asked why her bus got stuck on a dirt road, she reportedly told authorities that she was trying to make a U-turn, and this caused the bus to get stuck in a ditch alongside the narrow road. At this point, arresting officers administered a series of standardized field sobriety tests, which defendant is alleged to have failed. She is currently being held on bail, though the amount of bail has not been released to the public as of the time of this article.
It should be noted that defendant has not been convicted of any allegations in connection with this recent arrest, as these charges for driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, commercial vehicle drunk driving, and child endangerment are merely allegations at this point. Under the United States Constitution, she is presumed innocent unless and until she is found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a judge or jury.
This is not the first time a school bus driver, or any bus driver for that matter, has been arrested for drunk driving with passengers in the vehicle. In the case of a school bus, the passengers are generally children, which tends to make the situation even more egregious in the eyes of law enforcement and society in general.
If your child is injured on a school bus, you should speak with an experienced Boston drunk driving lawyer as soon as possible, because the situation can become very complicated in a short period of time. The first legal issue deals with who is operating the bus. In some cases, the school board hires drivers, and these drivers are county employees. In other cases, the school board will hire an independent contractor to handle student transportation.
If the bus is being operated by the school district, the government agency will probably not have a typical insurance policy. Instead, the agency will be what is referred to as self-bonded. This basically means that the school board or the state will have an injury fund from which victims can recovery in the event of a settlement or jury verdict. However, the government will have certain defenses not available to private defendants. One of these defenses is the doctrine of sovereign immunities. Under this doctrine, government agencies have immunity in certain situations, and have limited liabilities in other situations. This is does not mean you cannot sue, but it is something about which you should speak with your attorney during your initial consultation.
If you have been injured in a Boston drunk driving accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
Police Charge California School Bus Driver with DUI, Endangering 28 Children on Bus, December 14, 2015, People, By Chris Harris
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