DOE school bus driver arrested for DUI
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A school bus driver was arrested when police officers pulled over the school bus he was driving after a student inside the bus called his father’s cell phone and informed him that the driver was speeding and would swerve the vehicle from time to time.
The driver, Joseph S. Salausa, the defendant in this matter made his initial appearance in District Court last month.
He is charged with 9 traffic citations including 8 counts of endangering the welfare of a child and one count of driving under the influence of alcohol, all class A misdemeanors, punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to one year, a fine of up to $1,000 or both; and reckless driving, a class B misdemeanor.
Bail is set at $2,000.
On Nov. 2, 2021 at 1:33p.m Fagatogo Headquarters received a call from a police sergeant of the Vice and Narcotic Unit requesting assistance during a traffic stop of a school bus bearing license #DOE-115. Several police officers responded to the call and proceeded to the location of the traffic stop which was in Kokoland at a store near the area.
Officers arrived and observed a male individual standing outside near the school bus wearing a red shirt with a white ie lavalava. The male individual was later identified as Joseph S. Salausa, the defendant and also the driver of the school bus.
The police sergeant who initiated the traffic stop told investigators that he received a call from his son who was a passenger onboard the school bus claiming that the driver was speeding and would swerve the vehicle from time to time. The police sergeant received the call and was within the vicinity (Fagaima area) and was able to catch up and follow the school bus to the next drop off point which was where the traffic stop was initiated.
The police sergeant followed the school bus from the stop sign at the four-corner intersection in Fagaima into the Kokoland area, he had estimated the travel speed of the school bus from his vehicle speedometer to be at (35-40mph) within a 25mph zone. He noticed that the driver would swerve at some points, but the officer couldn’t locate any pothole that would suggest he was swerving to avoid one. It was then that the police sergeant turned on the red/blue lights on his police unit and initiated a traffic stop at the above mentioned location.
Traffic officers who responded to the call approached the driver of the school bus and explained to him the reason for the stop and asked if the students on board the bus lived within the vicinity and the driver replied, “no”.
During the conversation with the driver, officers sensed a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting from the driver, he had blood shot and drowsy eyes, and slurred speech.
Officers discovered 8 passengers still on board.
The driver was asked to perform the Standardized Field Sobriety Test to determine if he was able to continue on with operation the school bus. After conducting the tests, it was determined that the driver was too impaired to operated the vehicle and was later placed under arrest and was verbally Mirandized at the scene.
The driver was transported to the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) and the school bus was impounded to the TPS and the Department of Education was notified for a co-driver to continue the trip and drop off the remaing students onboard.
Officers discovered two unopened cans of Busch ice beer located on the lower left side of the driver’s seat covered with a hat. The driver agreed to provide a breath sample to determine the amount of alcohol within his system and blew a 0.129 on the Intoximeter ASV XL machine.