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Bus driver charged with drunken driving

A New Richmond school bus driver is accused of driving drunk and crashing a school bus into a parked car.

Billie Jeanne O'Keefe, 35, of New Richmond, was driving 43 students to school on Thursday when the accident happened, according to a release from Mark Samelstad, New Richmond police chief.

No one was injured in the crash.

O'Keefe, who is employed with New Richmond Bus Service, was driving students to school when she crashed into a unoccupied, parked vehicle.

Three years ago, New Richmond School District signed a five-year contract with New Richmond Bus Service to fulfill the District's transportation needs.

Allegedly O'Keefe said she didn't know she had hit the car until someone on the bus told her, according to the police report.

A preliminary breath test registered O'Keefe's blood alcohol level at 0.046, according to the report. Allegedly, O'Keefe said she was out for her birthday the night before.

She was issued a citation for operating a commercial vehicle with a blood-alcohol level of more than 0.04, Samelstad said.

Wisconsin state law limits drivers to a 0.08 blood-alcohol level; however, commercial drivers, such as bus drivers, are limited to 0.04.

Whether O'Keefe will be charged with anything else is up to the district attorney, he said.

Authorities conducted a blood test to determine how much alcohol was in O'Keefe's system at the time of the crash. It takes about three weeks to get the results, Samelstad said.

Reports of the crash came in at about 7:30 a.m. at the intersection of Willow Avenue and Derrick Drive.

O'Keefe is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 21.

Jackie Grumish
Jackie Grumish has been a reporter with the New Richmond News since 2008. She holds degrees in journalism and fine art from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill. Before coming to New Richmond, Jackie worked as the city government reporter at a daily newspaper in Aberdeen, S.D. 
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