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School Bus Driver Arrested in Lincoln County on D.W.I. Charge [UPDATED 3:30 p.m.]

54-year-old Nelson Gonzalez of Sherrills Ford was arrested by Troopers with the N.C. State Highway Patrol yesterday (December 6) and charged with driving while impaired, driving a commercial vehicle while impaired, careless & reckless driving, and misdemeanor child abuse.

Gonzalez was arrested after the Highway Patrol responded to a careless and reckless driving complaint involving a Catawba County school bus. The Catawba County Sheriff’s Office also responded to reports that the bus was being driven erratically along Catawba Burris Road. The bus was stopped by Catawba County Sheriff’s Deputies on Catawba Burris Road in Lincoln County between 4 and 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The N.C. State Highway Patrol administered a standardized field sobriety test at the scene prior to the arrest. Based on those tests, Gonzalez was transported to Lincoln County where an Intoxilyzer test was conducted. The suspect was determined to have a blood alcohol content of .23. It is illegal to operate a vehicle in North Carolina with an alcohol concentration of .08 or higher.

The school bus (bus #411) was operated out of Sherrills Ford Elementary School. No students were on the bus at the time of the traffic stop and arrest. According to a statement released by Catawba County Schools and confirmed by the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office, all students had previously been safely delivered to their homes.

The D.W.I. charge was filed in Lincoln County where the traffic stop was conducted. According to the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office, multiple students were on the bus at the beginning of the route. The driver was impaired during the entirety of that route. The majority of the bus’ route runs through Catawba County; therefore, multiple counts of child abuse are pending in Catawba County.

Gonzalez was taken into custody at the scene. He was given a $2,000 secured bond. Gonzalez is not currently listed as an inmate. No court date is currently listed.