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Bus driver allegedly impaired during high schoolers’ Memorial Day weekend trip to Daytona Beach faces charges. Safety on the road is crucial

A driver taking 36 people, including high schoolers and their parents, on a road trip Saturday has been accused of being impaired while operating the vehicle, according to reporting from the Miami Herald

The driver, who was identified Tuesday evening as Keith Edward Shifflett, 55, was taking the passengers from Bradenton to Daytona Beach as part of Project Graduation, an alcohol-and-drug-free event organized for students who are graduating. The students, some of whom were still under 18 years old at the time of the incident, came from Sebring High School in Highland County, Florida. 

According to local reporting, the driver is accused of driving “recklessly” while running three red lights and ignoring pleas from passengers begging him to stop. Shifflett only stopped when a parent on the trip driving in a separate car got in front of the bus to block it. Shifflett was charged with 30 counts of culpable negligence and four counts of child abuse without great bodily harm.  

Thankfully, no one on the bus faced serious injury, but Leesfield & Partners has seen instances in which that has not always been the case. In 2021, Justin Shapiro, a Leesfield & Partners attorney, settled on behalf of a family whose son was airlifted to the hospital and suffered a traumatic brain injury after getting hit by a car while following instructions from a school bus driver.

In that instance, the boy and other children who had been on the bus followed the direction of the bus driver who had parked in the wrong lane on a darkened street. Additionally, the driver told the children to cross when there was no crosswalk. A speeding car hit the boy, causing him painful injuries from which he will never recover. In this instance, both the driver of the speeding car and the bus driver were deemed to be at fault.

State law says drivers must stop and cannot pass a bus displaying its stop signals. If the road has a raised median or physical barrier and the car is on the opposite side of the road where the bus is stopped, then that driver is not required to stop. 

School bus drivers are required by law to stop as far to the right of the road as they can before displaying lights and stop signals to allow the children to disembark from the bus. A school bus driver cannot stop in a place where visibility is low in either direction up to 200 feet. 

Dangers of Impaired Driving 

Florida is known for the sandy beaches and warm weather that attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world every year. Data shows a spike in these visits that coincide with school holidays such as summer and spring break. Data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles shows that there is a correlation between tourism spikes and citation for driving under the influence, particularly in March when most colleges have their spring breaks. According to the data, approximately 41 people have died and 41 others have been seriously injured in drunk driving crashes. There were a total of 479 drunk driving crashes in 2022, a 3% increase from the previous year. But the danger of impaired driving is not unique to the area – it is a problem that claims the lives of approximately 11,000 people in the United States every year. 

Leesfield & Partners has vehemently promoted the necessity for safe driving after decades of seeing the tolls that traffic crashes take on clients and their loved ones. The Leesfield Family Foundation, started by the law firm’s Founder and Managing Partner, Ira Leesfield and his family, is an organization dedicated to public service. The foundation has previously partnered with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and various children’s advocacy organizations to promote health and safety for children no matter where they are in their community. Through its support, the foundation has earned recognition from the Fatherhood Task Force of South Florida, the Clinton Foundation, the American Jewish Committee and the American Justice Association. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction, help can be found by calling the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at 1-800-667-4357. 


Drunk driving accounted for 479 crashes in Florida in 2022, according to data gathered by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Drunk driving accounted for 479 crashes in Florida in 2022, according to the latest available data gathered by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

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