Pinellas County School Buses Involved In 3 Separate Accidents On Same Day

Jan 4, 2017

The Pinellas County School District is investigating a trio of school bus accidents that occurred Tuesday.

On the first day back to school following winter break, one school bus driver was charged with a DUI after her bus was rear-ended.

Florida Highway Patrol arrested 56-year-old Dorothy Lynn Burse after she failed a sobriety test following a fender bender in Lealman Tuesday afternoon.

Investigators say Burse was stopped at a red light when she reported that a driver rear-ended the school bus and then left the scene.

Seven middle school students were on the bus but none were injured.

FHP spokesman Sgt. Steve Gaskins said toxicology tests are pending, but they believe Burse was impaired after taking a prescription medication.

Under Florida law, a driver can be arrested for a DUI even if the medication was prescribed by a doctor.

"You really need to check the warning label and talk to your doctor who is prescribing the medication to you,” Gaskins said. “Explain to them what kind of job that you have, especially if it’s one that involves driving or operating heavy equipment; things in which your normal faculties are mandatory."

A second school bus collided with an SUV after the bus driver ran a stop sign on Tuesday, while another crashed into a utility pole after being hit by a car.

Pinellas County Schools spokesperson Lisa Wolf said county school bus drivers are evaluated using a point system.

"If a driver accumulates a certain number of points in a school year then they can receive disciplinary action,” Wolf said. “That can range from suspension, retraining to, if it's a very severe case, termination with the school district as a bus driver."

School bus drivers do have to take a drug test before they are hired and undergo random screenings. Wolf said the district also supplies bus drivers with a list of prescription medications they should not take when driving.  

There were no serious injuries in any of the crashes.