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A group of 35 high school students from New York got a surprise on what should have been a routine bus ride to school on a recent morning. The ride ended when the 56-year-old driver crashed the vehicle into a telephone pole causing minor injuries to some of the students.

Police reported that drunk driving charges were filed against the school bus driver after she took a breath test that revealed her blood alcohol content level to be 0.13 percent. The legal limit for driving while intoxicated in the state is 0.08 percent.

The driver of the bus was charged under a law passed a couple of years ago that increases drunk driving charges to the felony level. Had she not been carrying children on the bus, she might have been charged with a misdemeanor instead of a felony.

School district officials said that bus drivers are required to submit to drug and alcohol testing at regular intervals to identify those individuals who might be using prohibited substances. No explanation was offered as to how this driver managed to get through the testing program.

This news report illustrates a recent trend to increase the severity of the charges and the penalties faced by motorists stopped for drunk driving under certain circumstances. Having children in the vehicle is one example of just such a situation.

For an individual who depends on being able to drive in order to earn a living, a suspension or revocation of a driver's license due to a DUI charge could make it impossible to continue his or her livelihood following a conviction. This is one reason that consulting with a criminal defense attorney following an arrest for drunk driving is important.

Source: USA Today, "Police: Bus driver drove drunk with 35 kids on board," Matt Coyne, May 12, 2015

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