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Student demanded drunk school bus driver pull over 0

Tracy McLaughlin, Special to QMI Agency

School bus. (Fotolia file photo)

School bus. (Fotolia file photo)

ORILLIA, ONT. - 

A school bus driver who was ordered by a student to stop the bus and hand over the keys was sentenced to jail Wednesday after pleading guilty to drunk driving.

Keith Rawson, 63, of Wasaga Beach, Ont., apologized in court for his behaviour before an officer put him in handcuffs.

Rawson was sentenced to 15 days in jail, a 15-month driving prohibition, 50 hours of community service and 12 months of probation.

Court heard how a 17-year-old student hopped on the Sinton Landmark bus and became alarmed when she immediately caught a whiff of alcohol June 18, 2013.

Realizing the bus driver was impaired, she boldly ordered him to pull over on Highway 26 and hand over the keys while she called police from her cellphone.

"I realized he was drunk and he was our bus driver who we trusted," student Brianna St. Onge said in a victim impact statement.

"This was irresponsible and selfish behaviour," she added. "I ask your honour to ponder what could have happened if he had kept driving. I am just grateful no one was killed."

Rawson was arrested at the scene and police discovered he had a bottle of alcohol with him on the bus. He was later taken for breath tests and gave readings of 192 -- almost three times the legal limit of alcohol in his system.

Rawson, a retired engineer, had taken on the job as a bus driver to keep busy in his retirement years. His lawyer told court Rawson has had a 10-year struggle with bipolar disorder characterized by extreme mood swings.

But Crown attorney Carol Ross insisted a mental disorder was no reason for Rawson's behaviour.

"This sounds like more of an excuse," Ross said. "There is no excuse. None."

She said Rawson would have had to have several drinks to have such a high breath-test reading.

"This was not just a couple of drinks. He had a lot of alcohol," Ross said. "And he knew he was going to drive. This is a gross breach of trust."

Rawson told the judge he regretted his behaviour.

"I put their lives in danger," he said. "It happened and I can't take it back. All I can do is get my life in order."

He said he has quit drinking and now attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

 


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