Bus driver with students onboard charged with DWI

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(ABC 6 News) – A Cannon Falls bus driver is facing charges including DWI while driving students to a YMCA camp in northern Minnesota.

According to the criminal complaint, Patrick David Bullard, 49, of Cannon Falls, has been charged with two counts of DWI – refusing to submit to a breath test and operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol – and two counts for violating the open bottle law – possession of alcohol, and drinking and consumption of alcohol.

On Wednesday at approximately 11:19 a.m., Minnesota State Troopers were dispatched when a driving complaint stated that a charter bus was driving erratically from shoulder to shoulder northbound on I-35, and almost completely drove off the road into a ditch, according to the criminal complaint.

Troopers located the bus and witnessed it drive across a lane of traffic and onto the shoulder, kicking up dust while continuing to weave out of its lane of travel.

Troopers activated their lights and pulled the bus over in Carlton County.

Troopers discovered there were 35 students on the bus, ranging from 11 to 14 years of age, and also 2 adult chaperones.

The driver, identified as Bullard, seemed dazed and disoriented as troopers spoke to him. They also noticed he had watery and glassy eyes, slurred speech, and his motions were slow and deliberate, according to the criminal complaint.

Troopers also smelled a feint odor of alcohol coming from Bullard.

According to the complaint, Bullard failed the standardized field sobriety tests that were given, and when he did a preliminary breath test, a .257 alcohol concentration was revealed.

Troopers asked Bullard when he last consumed alcohol, and he replied “3 hours ago.”

Bullard also admitted he had alcohol in a backpack he possessed, where troopers located a 1.75 liter bottle of Fireball whiskey, which was 1/3 empty.

Bullard also possessed an aqua colored plastic drinking container in a cup holder, which also contained an alcohol mixed beverage with had an odor similar to Fireball whiskey.

One of the adult chaperones on the bus stated that he saw Bullard drinking from the cup when he was driving the bus.

Bullard was then taken into custody. While under arrest, he was requested from the troopers to take another breath test, but he refused because he “didn’t want to.”

Bullard’s next court appearance is scheduled for November 2.