HINGHAM, Mass. (WWLP) – A school bus driver was allegedly driving under the influence Thursday evening with dozens of students on board, state police said.

Massachusetts State Police received a 911 call reporting an erratic school bus on Route 3 in Pembroke around 5:25 p.m., according to the Massachusetts State Police. The caller was a passenger on the bus and said that the bus was swerving in and out of the lanes and ran a red light. The troopers found the bus as it exited at Exit 27 and was pulled over into a Friendly’s parking lot.

The driver, 53-year-old Bethann Sweeney of Hanover, was asked to step off of the bus, and the troopers smelled alcohol on her. She was unsteady on her feet, and her speech and appearance showed signs that she was intoxicated. Sweeney was arrested and charged with operating under the influence of intoxicating substances. Police said they are not sure at this time if it was drugs or alcohol.

Sweeny had picked up 28 passengers around the ages of 14-20, and two adult supervisors, at Plymouth North High School, where they attended and were coming back from the Hingham United Basketball Special Olympics closing ceremony. The adult passengers told the troopers that Sweeney had tried to get onto Route 3 South which was in the wrong direction. When she was told she was going the wrong way, Sweeney ran a red light and then managed to get onto Route 3 North, where again she was swerving across the road and driving over rumble strips multiple times.

Troopers Joshua Harvey and Stephen Weddleton asked Sweeney to perform different field sobriety tests and based on the test results, Sweeney was under the influence of alcohol. She was sent to the barracks, where she refused to take a breathalyzer test, which triggered an automatic license suspension. Sweeney was then sent to South Shore Hospital for an evaluation.

During a search of Sweeney’s belongings, a 23.7-ounce Poland Springs water bottle was found. The bottle was half empty and smelled strongly of alcohol.

Sweeney was charged with the following offenses:

  • Operating under the influence of liquor;
  • Child endangerment while operating under the influence;
  • Negligent operation of a motor vehicle;
  • Reckless endangerment of a child; and
  • Having an open container of alcohol while driving.

A bail commissioner set Sweeney’s bail at $2,540 cash, and she did not post bail and was held overnight. She is being sent to Plymouth District Court Friday morning for arraignment.