The school bus driver suspected of trying to pick up kids from school while he was drunk is fighting the charges against him. Steven Sauer is charged with what his attorney says is his first ever D.U.I. His family bailed him out of jail today, 2 days after police say he crashed a school bus into a snowbank after he was drinking. His attorney, who described Sauer as a longtime friend of his -- says he hasn't seen the police reports yet or any results from a blood alcohol test. He only knows Sauer's never faced D.U.I. charges before.
Sauer's family appeared in West Fargo municipal court Friday afternoon in support of the 59-year-old bus driver, who's been in jail ever since his arrest on Wednesday. His attorney told the court Sauer was eligible to bail out earlier, but that his family left him there on purpose, saying it was in his best interests. The family had a chemical dependency evaluation scheduled for one hour after Sauer was set for his initial court appearance. They asked that the judge make his going to that evaluation a condition of his release. His attorney says it's hard to believe his friend Sauer would have done this.
"That's a dangerous thing," acknowledges defense attorney Willie Kirschner, of the charges against his client. "Steve would be very upset if that was the case. It's not anything he would ever have intended to do." Until the results of Sauer's blood test come from the state lab, Kirschner says they're looking into other explanations, like Sauer having suffered some sort of medical condition at the time of the crash.
According to North Dakota century code, Sauer's commercial license is still good unless and until he's convicted of driving under the influence, and or of being in actual physical control of the vehicle while intoxicated, which is the formal charge against him. Even then, if he is convicted and he stays clean, he could get that license to drive professionally back after a year.