Local authorities are charging Gates Chili Central School District bus driver Lashonda Griffin with multiple criminal charges after an investigation revealed that she was driving under the influence, with students onboard. The investigation conducted by Gates Police arose after the district contacted authorities citing “unusual activity and an unauthorized stop” on Friday morning.
Once conducted, it was determined that Griffin was driving a school bus with a BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) higher than the New York state legal limit. District officials say that six students were on the bus at that specific time.
The former school bus driver will be charged with five counts of Leandra’s Law violations for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol with a person under the age of 16 in the vehicle, according to reports. Official say that Griffin is expected to face additional charges as well.
Griffin was found unresponsive and unconscious in the bus garage behind the wheel by LT. Robert Long from Gates Police Department. At that time, no students were on the bus.
“Behind the wheel in general — when you’re drinking, that vehicle that you’re behind becomes a missile, a potential death trap,” Lt. Long said. “Many things can happen; you can kill somebody else, kill yourself, kill innocent bystanders. In this case, operating a school bus with children onboard brings it to a whole new level.”
A father of one of the students on the bus, David Ferris, says that he has seen Griffin display unusual behavior before. She would oftentimes show up to stops very early, take off without the kids, and then be tracked down and told to come back, he continued.
“When I got the phone call and [found] out what had happened…that she was arrested driving my child and my exchange student around, I was floored. Bottom line is this driver had problems with picking up my child before. And when I heard about this I was beside myself,” says Ferris.
Griffin was issued an appearance ticket and released.
First-time offenders of Leandra’s Law, also known as the Child Passenger Protection Act, can be charged with a Class E felony punishable by up to four years in prison.