June 21, 2018 09:01 AM
Connie Krystofiak never imagined a normal work day would start on her school bus route, and end with her being taken away in handcuffs.
On the morning of May 24, 2017, though, a trooper with the Minnesota State Patrol pulled Krystofiak over after receiving a 911 call that a bus was driving erratically.
Camera operators with the Minnesota Department of Transportation tracked Krystofiak's bus as it drove southbound on Highway 169 after dropping several elementary aged children off at North Education Center in New Hope.
"It was after my last drop off," said Krystofiak, who was then employed by Mainline Transportation Inc. "I had one more child to pick up."
Krystofiak was pulled over on Interstate 394. The trooper can be heard on dash camera video explaining why he stopped her.
"You almost hit a car and you're driving on the shoulder and everything else," the trooper said.
Two more state patrol troopers arrive on scene and asked Krystofiak to exit the bus. They performed a field sobriety test, and placed her under arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence.
"I was not under the influence of anything," Krystofiak said during an interview with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.
She said she consented to having her blood drawn and tested. Investigative reports show the blood tested positive for the presence of methadone.
"I told them I was taking it," Krystofiak said. "I didn't hide anything. I take it for my back. I've got a really bad back, and it's the only thing that works like an aspirin for me."
Reports sent by Krystofiak's public defender to the attorney who prosecuted the case reveal she had a prescription to take methadone.
Krystofiak said she did not take the medication before she went to work.
The 67-year-old was charged with fourth-degree driving while impaired. She said early on in the case that her public defender suggested she take a plea deal.
"I said 'No, I didn't do anything wrong,'" Krystofiak said.
But last month, when the case was set to go to trial, she changed her mind.
"There's always that outside chance that the jury wouldn't see things the way I see them," Krystofiak said. "I don't know that I was ready to take that chance."
Krystofiak pleaded guilty to careless driving. As part of her modified sentenced, she'll have to perform community service, take a DWI awareness class and be on probation for one year.
But now that the criminal case is settled, Krystofiak felt it was important to set the record straight.
"I want the parents that of the kids I picked up to know that I don't do drugs and I don't drink," Krystofiak said. "Their kids' safety was my first interest."
Updated: June 21, 2018 09:01 AM
Created: June 20, 2018 09:09 PM
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