A bus driver accused of driving drunk with more than two dozen kids on board will have to pay way more than the average DUI case to get out of jail. Vicki Patrick made her first court appearance for a bond hearing. She appeared via video conference in the Baldwin County Satellite Courthouse in Fairhope. The judge set her bond at a total of $35,000. The state asked for $10,000 for the DUI charge. That’s 10 times what it normally is according to an official with the Baldwin County District Attorney’s Office.
“She was entrusted with the care of our children and grossly violated that trust,” said a Baldwin County ADA in court.
The state also asked for a bond of $25,000 for the reckless endangerment or $1,000 per child on her bus. Baldwin County Sheriff “Hoss” Mack also appeared next to the suspect in the jail asking that she be forbidden from consuming alcohol. The judge granted that request and her driving privileges are suspended. Patrick also cannot have contact with the children who were on the bus or their families.
The Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office says first responders were called to a small parking lot area near the intersection of US Highway 90 and Browns Landing Road around 4 p.m. Officials say the bus appeared to be having some type of issue, but the bus driver seemed to be intoxicated.
Baldwin County officials say the twenty-five students on board were mostly from Elsanor Elementary School.
According to witnesses, a student pulled the emergency exit door forcing the driver to pull over or the bus wouldn’t work. First responders quickly figured out it was alcohol-related and called the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office.
Patrick is expected in the Bay Minette Courthouse this morning for a bond hearing.
A 13-year-old student on the bus said after they were picked up from Elsanor, the bus driver started “swerving all over the place.” “We started going, she tried talking on the intercom, couldn’t really talk that well and then she started swerving,” said Hunter Roberts, who was on the bus.
The sheriff’s office said Patrick refused to take a sobriety test on scene and reeked of “the smell of a fermented beverage.” Deputies say she was extremely disoriented and could barely stand or answer questions.
The sheriff’s office says Patrick was evaluated by medical and then placed under arrest on suspicion of DUI.