A scary accident from November involved one intoxicated bus driver and one busload of school children. The footage of the accident was caught on video. Jonathon C. Gates was driving his bus around 8:00 a.m. in the morning when he crashed on a rural road. There were ten children aboard the bus along with the driver and a second aid. In the video, you can hear children screaming as the bus careened off the road and into a ditch.
While there were no reported injuries, police say that the driver appeared to be inebriated and charged him with DUI/controlled substance.
This is actually a much easier case to defend than many of the others you will hear about in our blog. In this case, the driver was said to be driving under the influence of a controlled substance. It is likely the substance was prescribed by a doctor, and the driver did not necessarily realize the impact the medication would have on his ability to drive.
In a case like this, most people naturally are disgusted by anyone who would get behind the wheel of a vehicle carrying children. If this had happened in Indiana, the bus driver could have faced enhanced charges related to reckless endangerment. However, if he was legally prescribed the medication, the prosecution would still have a valid case against him, but it would be a mitigating as opposed to aggravating factor.
One aggravating factor, however, was the presence of children under the age of 16 in the vehicle over which the bus driver had control. In Indiana, you can face felony charges from DUI if there are children in the car, but only after you have had a prior DUI conviction. Penalties also escalate whenever someone is seriously injured or killed. A worst-case-scenario would look like six years plus any other charges for which the prosecution can get you.
However, the driver was not on alcohol at the time of the crash, and this complicates matters somewhat for the prosecution. If the driver recently began taking a medication that was ordered by his doctor, then the prosecution must be able to show that the medication impacted the driver in such a way as to cause the crash.
In most of these situations, the driver is innocent of recklessly endangering the lives of others by doing something he knew could result in harm to others. The driver simply made a mistake and misjudged his limits.
If you have been charged with DUI in Indiana, the attorneys at The Bellinger Law Office can prevent you from being overcharged for the crime. Talk to us today to find out more.