A school bus driver who drove drunk with elementary school children onboard was sentenced Thursday to 2 years in jail.
Robert Stundis, 48, of Bohemia, pleaded guilty in December to 12 counts of aggravated driving while intoxicated with a child in the vehicle, six counts of endangering the welfare of a child and other charges.
When he pleaded guilty then, Suffolk County Court Judge James F.X. Doyle promised him a sentence of a year in jail, but Doyle retired and the case went to Judge John Iliou, who said he wasn't comfortable with the deal. He noted that Stundis not only drove drunk with children from the Three Village Central School District in October, but then he parked, polished off his pint of vodka and drove some more with a shredded tire.
Stundis had a blood-alcohol content of .23 percent, almost three times the legal limit of .08 percent. He was pulled over while driving east on the Long Island Expressway near Exit 60 in Ronkonkoma after several 911 calls were phoned in to authorities. A half-empty 375-milliliter vodka bottle was found on the center console, prosecutors have said.
Iliou gave Stundis the choice of withdrawing his guilty plea and going to trial or taking his offer of 2 years.
"I will take the 2 years," Stundis said. "I just want to say I'm sorry. I regret my actions."
Iliou said parents expect their children to be safe from the moment they leave their bus stops. "You put these six children at risk," Iliou said. "Anyone who can find the ignition when they're a .23 has a problem."
Stundis' attorney, Daniel Driscoll of Bay Shore, said his client "has really shown great remorse. I believe he's going to be rehabilitated, because he's sincere about it." Stundis had been sober for years but relapsed after his mother died, Driscoll said.