Bus driver charged with DUI has past alcohol citations - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Bus driver charged with DUI has past alcohol citations

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ENCINITAS (CBS 8) - A North County Transit bus driver is accused of driving drunk with a blood alcohol level six times over the legal limit for commercial vehicle operators. News 8 has learned David Joseph Costello already had a history of alcohol offenses at the time he was hired to be a bus driver.

Deputies arrested the 40-year-old bus driver along Encinitas Boulevard Tuesday after a passenger on his bus called 911.

"I told them I just got off a bus with a driver I thought was intoxicated or on something," Carlsbad resident Emily Knudsen told News 8.

Knudsen was taking the bus to work in Encinitas when she noticed the driver was going slow and kept stopping for no reason. At one point, Knudsen says, Costello even exited the bus to urinate in the bushes.

"And then he came back out and I just noticed that he was kind of staggering," Knudsen said.

The Encinitas sheriff deputy who pulled over the bus immediately noticed the smell of alcohol.

"I saw his right eye was almost completely closed. His movements were very slow and his speech was slow and slurred," Deputy Brenda Wiebe recalled.

Costello failed both a field sobriety test and a preliminary field breath test.

"There were two tests taken, a .25 percent blood alcohol content and a .26 percent blood alcohol content," Wiebe said.

The legal limit for a commercial vehicle driver is .04, meaning Costello tested at more than six times the legal limit.

Pending blood tests will confirm the exact level of alcohol in Costello's system.

Court records show Costello has a history of alcohol violations.

He was cited twice for drinking in public in recent years, once on May 5, 2008 in Oceanside and two days later in Escondido. He also failed to appear in court in 2001 for running a red light, according to court records.

Costello is employed by First Transit, a private subcontractor currently in the process of taking over bus operations from the North County Transit District as part of an outsourcing contract.

A First Transit spokesperson told News 8 Costello passed all criminal background checks before he was hired as a bus driver in March.

Passenger Emily Knudsen is just glad she decided to call 911, because she says somebody could have been killed.

"I don't think he should have been driving a bus," Knudsen said. "I feel like they should have a very vigorous screening for people who drive buses."

Law enforcement sources tell News 8 Costello has other alcohol-related offenses that have been purged from his record because they are more than a decade old.

There's still no word from First Transit as to why they failed to locate the more recent citations from 2001 and 2008 during its background check in advance of hiring Costello.

Costello is out on bail and is scheduled to be arraigned in Vista court Thursday afternoon.

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