Bus driver admits to drunk driving with students aboard
On September 22, 2020, a Somers school district bus driver, in Westchester County, New York was convicted of driving intoxicated with students were on his school bus. William Mendez pled guilty Tuesday to driving drunk last December. Officers say his blood alcohol content level was close to three times the legal limit.
However, Mendez has since been released on interim probation with a suspended license. He is set to be sentenced next September. New York State DWI School Bus Drivers. In New York State a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher qualifies as driving while intoxicated (DWI). However, drivers of commercial motor vehicles, such as school buses, are considered to be drunk driving when a BAC of 0.04 percent or higher is registered. This lower requirement is intended to safegaurd the public from drunk driving accidents when people are driving larger vehicles or carrying passengers. A drunk operator of a bus or truck is an elevated hazard on the road, due to the size and weight of these vehicles, as well as the degree of skill and attention that is required to operate these vehicles safely. Our New York drunk driving accident lawyers know all to well that anyone who is in an accident caused by a drunk driver can become seiously injured and even killed.
In response to this incident and other incidents, several lawmakers in New York have propsed requiring Ignition Interlock Devices, be placed on school buses to make sure that no operator drives a bus while under the influence of alcohol and that other measures be instituted to prevent bus drivers from driving school buses when under the influence of alcohol.
1. Interlock Devices
An ignition interlock device (IID), also known as a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID), is an apparatus mounted to the interior of a vehicle. The purpose of the IID is to detect whether or not the operator’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) registers at a safe level to drive. Before a motor vehicle with an IID can start, the operator must blow a puff of air into the mechanism – similar to a Breathalyzer – if the BAC levels are at or over the pre-programmed BAC level, the vehicle will not start. The device also requires the operator to give additional, intermittent breath samples while the vehicle is on.
Senator George Maziarz (R) from Niagara Falls proposed the IID bill. The bill was introduced after four (4) DWI school bus driver-related accidents occurred on Long Island. Senator Maziarz espouses that the devices on school buses would save lives. He also argues that they are not as costly as opponents of the bill contend.
2. Alcohol Testing and Greater Penalties for School Bus Drivers
Some of the state’s lawmakers believe the installation of the IIDs on school buses is too pricey and other, less expensive, alternatives to safety on the buses exist. Senator Ted O’Brien (D) of Fairport, favors increasing penalties for those bus drivers receiving DWIs. Senator O’Brien also wants more random alcohol testing of bus drivers. He believes greater supervision of the drivers before they venture out on school bus routes will minimize bus driver-related DWIs.
Senator Michael Ranzenhofer (R) from Williamsville projects that the installation of IIDs on school buses would cost the State of New York tens of thousands of dollars – approximately $100 per school bus. He supports legislation that imposes greater penalties for all drunk drivers.
While lawmakers disagree on how to make the school buses safer – they appear to agree on the importance of keeping children as safe as possible on the school buses.
At our New York law firm, Our Drunk Driving Accident Attorneys understand and support the notion of keeping the roads safe for everyone, especially including children on school buses.