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School bus driver arrested for DWI

Geneseo, N.Y. --- A Livingston County school bus driver faces charges after she allegedly drove students around while drunk Monday morning.

Manon Coyne, 47, was arrested for DWI after dropping off students for summer school in Geneseo.  Court paperwork indicates that at least six students were on the bus while she was driving her route; five of them were under the age of 15.

For that reason Coyne was charged with five counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child and five more counts of felony DWI under Leandra’s Law.  That statue applies to adults accused of driving drunk with children in the vehicle.

But Livingston County Sheriff’s Office Deputies state that Coyne’s Blood Alcohol Content when tested was 0.24% - that is three times the legal limit for an adult operating any vehicle, but laws are even more strict for bus and truck drivers.

Coyne has been placed on unpaid administrative leave by the Geneseo School District.


The Arrest

Deputies who investigated this case started Monday by assisting members of Geneseo Ambulance who were called to a Lakeville-Groveland Road home in the Town of Geneseo around 7 a.m.  The 49 year-old brother of Coyne was transported from that home to the hospital for alcohol poisoning according to authorities.

Deputies then discovered narcotics in the home and arrested Gabrianna J. Allen-Reitter, 19 of Rochester, for a drug charge and resisting arrest.  

"As they were completing the scene that morning they had another vehicle drive in erratically where they encountered Ms. Coyne,” Livingston County Undersheriff Jim Szczesniak said of the investigation.  “Through the investigation they learned that she (Coyne) had driven by the scene with law enforcement there earlier with the school bus, opted to take that school bus back to the bus garage, and then returned with her personal vehicle.”

Court documents indicate that Coyne was given field sobriety tests after deputies observed, “A strong odor of an alcoholic beverage, glassy, bloodshot eyes and slurred speech.”

The Bus Route

Deputies claim the investigation revealed that earlier that morning Coyne was driving students on a Geneseo Central School District bus to their first day of summer school.

"There were some stops that were missed and she may have driven by and returned but normal first day of the run they took that as just the first day and not being familiar with the route,” Undersheriff Szczesniak said of the investigation.  "Clearly the officers did not observe her operating the bus with the children on the bus but through their investigative ability and the timeline that they were able to close they were able to determine that she was in an intoxicated condition at the point that she was operating the bus with those children."

Court papers state that at least five of the children on the yellow, #106 school bus Coyne was driving were under the age of 15.  A sixth student was older.

In fact, Undersheriff Szczesniak said when they first encountered Coyne at that Geneseo home deputies had reason to suspect she was intoxicated.
"She did have an open container when she returned to the scene but we have no indications she was drinking while on the route," Szczesniak said.
The Charges
Deputies filed five DWI charges under Leandra’s Law, one for each child on that bus.  They also filed five Endangering the Welfare of a Child charges.  But Livingston County District Attorney Greg McCaffrey plans to pursue even more serious charges.
"Besides the Leandra's Law a school bus driver makes it a Class E felony and then with the aggravated blood alcohol level makes it a Class D felony so the stakes get upped because she's a school bus driver,” D.A. McCaffrey said.
The difference between an E-felony and D-felony charge is found in the prison sentence possible.  An E-felony carries a sentence range of one-to-four years in prison.  A D-felony carries a sentence range of two-to-seven years in prison.
McCaffrey said he expects to review the case further and possibly present evidence to a grand jury in the near future.
Geneseo School District Reacts
Superintendent Tim Hayes of the Geneseo Central School District said he will thoroughly review procedures and policies following Coyne’s arrest.
"We're going to do our utmost to make sure that nothing like this happens again,” Superintendent Hayes said.  “The unfortunate thing is our transportation department is one of the prides of our organization we have fantastic people our drivers our mechanics, supervisors, these are people that care deeply about the safety of our students and the alleged actions of one individual has tarnished that a little bit and that's unfortunate.”
Coyne remains on unpaid administrative leave.  Disciplinary proceedings are handled with the district and Coyne’s union representatives. 
"In the aftermath of any incident whether it's a student safety incident or whatever we're going to evaluate our procedures and we are most definitely going to do that here,” Hayes said.
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