In most cases, transporting your children to and from school via school bus is typically a safer option than most other vehicles and other forms of transport. However, school bus accidents still do occur. However, did you ever think it might be because the school bus driver with whom you entrusted your children was drunk? A couple years ago in Winona County, a school bus driver was charged with DWI after crashing into a tree with children on board the bus. Fortunately, none of the five young children on the bus were injured, but the bus driver will probably face serious criminal consequences if he hasn’t already.
Under Minnesota law, if you are driving a commercial vehicle after consuming alcohol, you can be arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated even if your blood alcohol concentration is only 0.04 percent, or half the legal limit of 0.08 percent. School bus drivers in Minnesota are considered commercial drivers; however, there is zero tolerance for driving a school bus after consuming alcohol. What this means is that it is illegal to drive a school bus with any amount of alcohol in your system.
A school bus driver can be convicted of a gross misdemeanor if the offense occurred while a child younger than sixteen years old was on the bus, if a child more than thirty-six months younger than the bus driver was on the bus, or if the bus driver had a prior DWI conviction within the past ten years. A gross misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in prison, and a fine of up to $3,000. If none of these gross misdemeanor factors are present, the bus driver can be convicted of a misdemeanor. Misdemeanor convictions in Minnesota are punishable by up to ninety days in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
In addition to these penalties for either a gross misdemeanor or misdemeanor conviction, a school bus driver can also lose their school bus endorsement, or privilege to operate a school bus in Minnesota for five years, and commercial driving privileges may be disqualified. After five years, the school bus driver can apply to have the endorsement reinstated. Similar to other commercial vehicle DWI offenses, a school bus driver remains validly licensed to drive other non-commercial motor vehicles unless the DWI conviction was the result of a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher.
With cancellation of a school bus endorsement or disqualification of your commercial driving privileges come other devastating consequences. After conviction of a commercial DWI, it is possible that you will lose your job, and you might not be hired again as a commercial driver. Even when your commercial driver’s license and school bus endorsement are reinstated, many employers are looking for drivers that have clean driving records, and thus your future as a commercial vehicle driver or school bus driver may be compromised.
If you or someone you know has been arrested and charged with driving a commercial vehicle or school bus while intoxicated, it is important, for the sake of your future, that you consult with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney right away. The attorneys at the Kans Law Firm, LLC can review the facts and evidence in your DWI case, advise you of your rights and responsibilities, discuss your options, if any, regarding your commercial driver’s license, and help you determine your chance for a successful outcome in your case. Call the Kans Law Firm, LLC toll free at 1-888-972-6060, or contact us online, and schedule your free case review today.