Minnesota has strict laws regarding driving under the influence. These laws vary depending on the kind of license the driver has and the type of vehicle they are operating. Let’s take a closer look at school bus DWI consequences.
A school bus is considered a commercial vehicle and requires a commercial driver’s license. Yet, the law with regard to DWI is different for a school bus than any other commercial vehicle. Let’s examine further.
In Minnesota, the driver of a typical car is considered above the legal limit if they have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher. For driver of a commercial vehicle, they are considered driving while intoxicated if the blood alcohol concentration is 0.04 percent or higher. This means that a commercial driver can be arrested and convicted of DWI with a 0.04 blood alcohol concentration. That is half the amount of the typical car driver that can be arrested.
Minnesota has a zero tolerance policy for school bus drivers. Therefore, it is illegal to drive a school bus if any alcohol is in the driver’s system. At any alcohol level, the school bus driver can be arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated. A school bus driver can not have a sip or wine or a sip of beer prior to driving a school bus. Anything above 0.00 is a crime in Minnesota for a school bus driver.
The penalties are also more severe for a school bus driver convicted of DWI while operating the bus. The penalties depend on the circumstances. If the bus driver has a child younger than 16 years old on the bus or if they have a prior DWI conviction in the past 10 years, they will face a gross misdemeanor. The punishment for a gross misdemeanor can be 1 year in prison and a fine of $3,000. Otherwise, the bus driver can be convicted of a misdemeanor which is punishable by 90 days in prison and a fine up to $1000. This means that if the bus is empty, the punishment is less. If the bus has children on it, the punishment is more severe.
In addition to the fine and jail time described above, the bus driver also faces loss of their ability to operate a school bus. They may lose their commercial driver’s license and may not be allowed to drive a school bus for five years. This means a loss of the driver’s job. When the five years has passed, the driver can reapply to get the commercial license but it is not guaranteed that they will be re-hired. In many cases, driver’s that do not have a clean driving record are not hired. Therefore, being allowed to re-apply does not necessarily mean it will be possible to get the school bus driving job back.
Driving a Car
Will the regular driver’s license be taken away too? In many cases the answer is no. The driver will be able to continue to hold their regular driver’s license assuming their blood alcohol concentration was less than 0.08 percent. If it was 0.08 or above, the penalties of a regular DWI may be enforced including loss of license.
Being charged with a school bus DWI is serious and the potential penalties are severe. If you are facing school bus DWI charges, it is highly recommended you contact a criminal defense attorney. A criminal defense lawyer will have the knowledge and experience to help you with your case. They can review the facts and determine the best path forward to try to help you achieve a successful outcome. They may find issues with your arrest that make it possible to reduce or eliminate the charges. Contact us to learn more.
Disclaimer: The content of this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please contact Jennifer Speas to discuss the specifics of your case.