West Fargo school bus driver suspected of DUI after getting stuck in snowbank
A West Fargo bus driver was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving after getting stuck in a snowbank Wednesday afternoon while he was on his way to pick up a group of children.
A passer-by reported the stuck school bus about 2:30 p.m. on the 100 block of 32nd Avenue, West Fargo police Lt. Duane Sall said.
When officers responded to the scene, the bus was running and the driver, Steven C. Sauer, was sitting inside near the back.
"Officers determined he wasn't acting normal. Paramedics responded and cleared him medically," Sall said.
Officers could smell alcohol on Sauer, 59, and administered field sobriety tests, Sall said.
No children were on the bus at the time of the incident. Sauer had been on his way to pick up about 40 Aurora Elementary School students and drive Route 56 when the bus became stuck.
Sauer was placed under arrest and taken to Essentia Health for a blood alcohol test before he was taken to the Cass County Jail and booked on suspicion of DUI.
Sauer remained at the jail late Wednesday night. Attempts to contact Sauer were unsuccessful.
Sall said the bus was not damaged and was driven away from the scene by Valley Bus Co. staff.
West Fargo Schools contracts with Valley Bus Co. for transportation of students on about 12 routes.
Roger Peterson, route manager for Valley Bus Co., would not comment on the incident or Sauer's history with the company.
"No comment. It is under investigation by the police," Peterson said.
Karen Nitzkorski, West Fargo School Board chairwoman, said Valley Bus Co. has had a good record with the district in the past.
"We try to take good care of all of our students and our buses, so this was an unfortunate incident," Nitzkorski said.
A North Dakota Department of Public Instruction policy states that school bus drivers are not allowed to consume "intoxicating beverages" during or eight to nine hours prior to any trip in which students are transported.
According to the Valley Bus Co. website, school bus drivers must be able to obtain a commercial driver's license, pass required physical and drug tests and have a clean driving record with no DUI or reckless driving charges.
North Dakota and Minnesota court records showed only one traffic offense on Sauer's record: a 2009 speeding ticket in Cass County. Sauer pleaded guilty and paid a $10 fine.