San Diego News 6 reports that Emily Knudson, a passenger on a North County bus, is being called a hero for her 911 call on June 1, 2010 when she suspected the driver of her bus was intoxicated. Knudson was riding on a transit bus traveling between Oceanside and Encinitas when she noticed that the bus driver, 40-year-old David Costello, was driving erratically, appearing sweaty, making random stops, including once to go to the bathroom on the side of the road.
Police stopped the bus and administered several sobriety tests, which Costello failed, and was said to have a blood alcohol level of .25 which is six times the legal limit for commercial drivers. San Diego officer Deputy Weibe said, “His right eye was actually closed — and when I asked him to open his eyes, they were red, they were blood shot — swollen and droopy. His motor coordination was slow, his speech was slow and slurred.” Costello was taken into custody and transported to Vista jail. Authorities disclosed that Costello had been cited nine times for alcohol related incidents since 2006.
Applicable California Law
Costello will face various criminal charges including driving under the influence, public intoxication and possibly reckless endangerment In violation of California Vehicle Code 23152, among others. Furthermore, had he caused an accident, he would also face potential claims for damages. Taking into account his blood alcohol level, punitive damages for gross negligence could also be claimed. In addition, since Costello was in the course and scope of his employment, the North County Transit District would also be responsible for any damages. A timely claim must be filed with the proper agencies and strict compliance with the government claims statutes pursuant to Government code section 945.4. California Civil Code Section 3294 determines when punitive damages can be awarded. As applied to employers, punitive damages based on the conduct of an employee may be awarded in various situations such as where the employer :
- Had advanced knowledge that the employee was unfit and employed him or her with conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others
- Authorized or ratified the bad conduct; or
- Commits one or more acts of oppression; or
- Commits fraud, such as a “cover up” or lying about .
The acts of good Samaritan averted a potential accident, which could have resulted in serious personal injury, or wrongful death to the passengers of the bus, pedestrians, or other motorists. Bus accidents, auto accidents, motorcycle accidents involving drunk drivers are tragic . In addition, route 309 is heavily traveled by bicycle riders, who are at great risk of serious injury. When injury, or wrongful death touches our lives, the guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney is invaluable.