Our Illinois drunk driving lawyers are troubled by recent news reports of a Northwest Indiana school bus driver who was arrested for driving drunk while taking a group of fifth-graders on a field trip. We understand that parents place a great deal of trust in school bus drivers to safely transport their children to and from school and all related school events. This trust is violated in situations such as this one, where a school bus driver failed fourth breathalyzer tests within hours of driving students on her normal morning bus route.
The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting further details on this unfortunate incident that happened on February 2, 2012. According to the report, Kolleen Lampa was arrested after driving drunk for approximately three miles while carrying a bus load of 44 students and two teachers from Myers Elementary School. When Lampa dropped the students off at Portage High School for their field trip, she began arguing with another bus driver in the parking lot. The driver detected a strong odor of alcohol on Lampa's breath and immediately notified her supervisor. The supervisor stopped Lampa from driving away and took her to St. Mary Medical Center, where she failed two breath tests.
In Indiana, drivers with a blood-alcohol level concentration of .08 or more are considered to be legally under the influence. That limit is lowered to .04 for drivers of commercial vehicles, such as school bus drivers. Reports show that Lampa's intoxication level at 10:30 a.m. - just one hour after pulling into the school parking lot- was .139. It dropped slightly to .129 at 10:54 a.m. At this point, the district supervisor took Lampa back to the transportation building and called police. After failing two more blood alcohol tests, Lampa admitted to the officers that she had been drinking the night before, but said that she limited her drinking to one glass of wine at dinner.
Our Chicago car accident attorneys have extensive experience handling drunk driving accidents. We know that immediately after a person finishes their first drink, their driving skills are diminished. Alcohol affects speed and distance judgments and coordination, making it significantly more likely that the driver will be involved in a car crash. Although the school bus driver in this case claims that she drank just one alcoholic beverage, research shows that an average female weighing about 137 pounds would have to consumer at least three drinks in a single hour just to reach a blood alcohol level of .08. Given that the school bus driver's blood alcohol level reached well beyond this limit, she seriously endangered the lives of the students and teachers on her bus while driving drunk.
Fortunately, no one on the bus suffered any injuries, but the circumstances created a serious potential for great bodily harm or even death. Lampa is charged with felony drunk driving, two misdemeanor counts of driving while intoxicated, and a felony count of neglect of a dependent. She has worked as a bus driver in Portage for the last five years, but is currently on suspension due to the district's zero tolerance policy for alcohol.
Drunk drivers are responsible for some of the most horrific car accidents that we have handled and helped victims and their families recover from. The rate at which these accidents continue to happen is disturbing. Statistics show that an innocent victim is killed by a drunk driver every 30 minutes. In 2009, over 200 people in Indiana alone died in a drunk driving accident. Drivers who act recklessly and drink alcohol before getting behind the wheel, especially those who are entrusted with the care of small children, need to be held accountable in order to prevent future harm. An experienced Chicago DUI lawyer can help you and your family if you have suffered needlessly at the hands of a drunk driver.