A Cannon Falls man faces DWI charges after he allegedly drank Fireball whiskey while driving a bus full of youth campers.
Court documents say Patrick David Bullard, 49, has been charged with two counts of DWI — operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and refusing to submit to a breath test — and two counts of violating the open bottle law.
The bus he was driving had 35 boys in it, ranging from ages 11 to 14. Bullard was over six times the legal limit for driving a bus in Minnesota when he was pulled over and taken into custody.
According to the criminal complaint:
On Sunday, Aug. 21 at about 11:19 a.m., Minnesota State Patrol Troopers received a report of a driving complaint regarding a charter bus that was "driving from shoulder to shoulder" in the northbound lanes of I-35. The complaint also noted that the bus almost drove off the road into a ditch.
Troopers witnessed the bus drive across traffic lanes and onto the shoulder. The driver was then pulled over shortly after the state patrol activated their lights and sirens, telling the bus to pull over.
The driver, identified as Bullard, was driving a bus with the 35 boys and two adult chaperones. They were all part of a YMCA group bringing the children to a YMCA camp in northern Minnesota.
Authorities noted that Bullard was "dazed and disoriented," while also having "watery and glassy eyes, slurred speech and his motions were very slow and deliberate." Once pulled over, the bus began to roll because Bullard failed to use the parking brake, according to the complaint.
Bullard was also noted to be "very unsteady with his feet," and that Troopers noted an alcohol smell coming from Bullard. When asked about his consumption of alcohol, Bullard claimed he last drank two days prior.
According to the complaint, Bullard failed every standardized field sobriety test given, and when he did a preliminary breath test, a .257 alcohol concentration was revealed. When he was asked again when he last consumed any alcohol, Bullard changed his answer to "three hours ago."
He also admitted to police that he had alcohol inside his backpack. There, authorities found an open 1.75 liter bottle of Fireball Whiskey, which was noted to be about a third empty. A plastic drinking container was also found in the cup holder, which also had alcohol mixed with something in it.
One of the chaperones on the bus stated that he saw Bullard drinking from the cup as he was driving the bus.
Bullard was then taken into custody. While under arrest, he was requested from the state patrol to take another breath test, but he refused because he "didn't want to."
According to the compliant, the children in the bus constitute an aggravating factor regarding both driving while impaired charges in the case.
Bullard will make his next court appearance on Nov. 2.