How are school bus drivers being tested?

Posted at: 08/30/2013 5:21 PM
Updated at: 08/30/2013 5:27 PM
By: Berkeley Brean

People are still talking about the arrest of a school bus driver charged with DWI. Amini Kellum is charged with Leandra's Law DWI, which means police believe she was driving her school bus intoxicated with children on board. She was arrested Wednesday morning. The bus company said she passed all of her drug and alcohol tests and had a clean record.

Not every driver is tested, but every driver could be tested. The rule is that it is random and when it comes to alcohol, at least ten percent of the drivers in every district have to be tested.

Amini Kellum, accused of DWI, said, “I'm not guilty and that's the end of it and we'll see what happens.”

Amini Kellum is the school bus driver accused of DWI. Again, her bus company says she passed every test before she was hired and had a clean driving record. News10NBC looked into the federal guidelines that say there must be drug and alcohol testing for school bus drivers.  “Ten percent of the average number of driver positions" are randomly tested for alcohol. The number increases to "50 percent" for drugs.

Michelle Sears, Greece Central School District Transportation, said, “So the probability of getting caught is high.”

Michelle Sears is the Director of Transportation for Greece Schools. She has 243 bus drivers. That means at least 24 of them will be randomly tested for drinking.

News 10NBC's Berkeley Brean asked, “Why isn't every tested? Why is it just random?”
Sears said,  “Random? Well we could test everybody. We could test every employee. We just follow the law that says random.”

Amini Kellum was not tested Wednesday morning. Security video was released of the bus she was driving. It shows her getting stuck at a gas station. At one point, the video shows Kellum getting out of the bus in the yellow vest and checking the damage to the bus. The video then shows that she tried several times to get the bus loose. A short time later, Kellum was arrested for DWI. Outside court after her arraignment, Kellum denied to Berkeley Brean that she was drunk.

Kellum said, “The bus didn't crash. The only reason the bus crashed, the bus didn't crash alright. I pulled into the gas station and I thought I had enough room to swerve the bus around and that's when it got stuck at the little pump. It just needed some movement towards the back.”

Each district does things a little differently. For instances in Hilton, they randomly test 25 percent of their bus drivers for alcohol. In Greece, the random tests start sometime in the first two weeks of September.

The state law says legal limit for bus drivers is 0.04. If they're above that, they're legally drunk. That is twice as strict as the limit for regular, private drivers, but it's not like they can have a little bit of alcohol in their system. By law, if there's even a trace of alcohol, the drivers are pulled out of service for at least 24 hours. Greece has a rule, no drinking six hours before the start of any route.