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School bus driver on Long Island charged with DWI

October 23, 2012 3:16:18 PM PDT
Police on Suffolk County arrested a school bus driver and charged him with DWI after crashing into a tree.

47-year-old James Sommer was in court Tuesday on a misdemeanor charge of driving while ability impaired.

He was arrested Monday after crashing a bus during a field trip in Cold Spring Harbor.

Sommer was trying to park the vehicle, loaded with 29 7th graders, when he backed into a tree.

One 12-year-old girl suffered minor injuries.

"It could have been so much worse. It could have been fatal. If not this bus, it could be tomorrow's bus. That's why we're all here today," said Jennifer Dorane, a parent.

The women had children on that bus and both want this incident to be the last.

Their concerns were heightened because two other school bus drivers on Long Island were arrested for drunk driving earlier this month.

"What we're hoping is that they'll install the breathalyzer in buses and this won't happen again," said Lori Ferrantino, a parent.

Meanwhile, James Sommer's attorney is questioning whether his client had even been drinking, despite police reports that an open bottle of bourbon was found on the bus.

"A lot of things get said and they we find out later that they were not true. Just like you were all told initially that this was a felony. You're standing here today this is not a felony," Sommer's attorney said.

His attorney believes results of a blood test will eventually exonerate the driver.

James Sommer was released on $10,000 cash bail.

He's due back in court on November 1st.

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