WESTBURY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — An off-duty New York City bus driver was caught driving a bus while intoxicated on his day off on Long Island, police said.
Alexander Copeland, 52, of Medford, was arrested Sunday afternoon after police received several complaints about an erratic bus heading east on the Northern State Parkway.
Police stopped the bus near exit 32 in Westbury just before 2:30 p.m. and a trooper detected a strong smell of alcohol while interviewing Copeland, New York State Police said.
Copeland failed a sobriety test and was arrested, police said. He had a blood-alcohol reading of 0.20 percent, more than double the legal limit of 0.08, police said.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, the veteran driver has been on the job since 1988 and has a clean record.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said the bus was taken from a street near the Jamaica depot, where Copeland worked, and was stopped about 16 miles away.
As motorists merged onto the Northern State in Nassau County, they did a double take. A New York City Transit bus was on a suburban parkway restricted to cars. Its driver appeared dazed behind the wheel.
State police received a flurry of 911 calls on Sunday afternoon from frightened families. The displaced MTA bus seemed to be swerving and weaving across multiple lanes near Exit 32, Post Ave in Westbury.
Troopers pulled the bus over and said Copeland appeared intoxicated and willingly submitted to a sobriety test which he allegedly failed.
Copeland had the day off and was not authorized to be driving the bus, the spokesman said.
He returned to the bus yard, got in behind-the-wheel of bus number 9057, parked it on the street, and headed eastbound with no passengers aboard.
“It appears he picked up the bus earlier at Jamaica Bus Depot and he was en route to Medford,” Major Joseph Tripodo, Troop L Commander, New York State Police.
Copeland is charged with reckless endangerment, unauthorized use of a vehicle, aggravated DWI and traffic violations.
Police said Copeland cooperated, sobered up, and seemed remorseful. His wife came to the barracks and drove the grandfather home to Medford.
Copeland is due to appear in court later this month. His union is standing behind him.
MTA investigators said that for security reasons they will not divulge how the driver got access to the bus and how he started the engine.
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