Former bus driver, convicted of drinking while driving kids, found asleep behind wheel with .36 BAC

INDIANAPOLIS -- A man previously convicted of driving a school bus full of children while intoxicated was found asleep behind the wheel of a van Wednesday night with a reported blood-alcohol content more than four times the legal limit.

Phillip K. Leslie, 56, was arrested on a preliminary charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated around 9 p.m. Wednesday after police discovered him asleep behind the wheel of a van that had partially driven over a curb.

Officers reported finding three bottles of vodka between the seats of the vehicle, and said Leslie admitted that he had been drinking. A portable breath test determined Leslie had a BAC of 0.36 – more than four times the legal limit.

Leslie lost his job as a Franklin Township school bus driver in March 2009 after students reported he had been driving erratically and smelled of alcohol. Police sent to check out the complaints found Leslie slumped over the wheel of the bus, and reported smelling a strong odor of alcohol.

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A blood alcohol test performed in that incident determined Leslie had a BAC of 0.22 at the time.

Leslie pleaded guilty to one count of criminal recklessness and one count of operating a vehicle while intoxicated in connection to that incident and was sentenced to time served for the 80 days he’d already spent in the Marion County Jail.

Leslie was also ordered to enroll in treatment for alcohol abuse at Progress House, and his driver’s license was suspended for 365 days.

IMPD arrest records show Wednesday night’s incident is at least the third time since his 2009 arrest that Leslie has been accused of driving while intoxicated.

On May 12, 2017, police were called to a crash with a suspected intoxicated driver in the 1300 block of Southport Road. They ultimately arrested Leslie on a charge of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated in that incident.

Two weeks later, on May 29, 2017, police were called to a crash in the 7600 block of Mann Road. Witnesses told police they had assisted a man – later identified as Leslie – in getting his truck back on the road.

Soon thereafter, they said they found Leslie crashed just a short distance away.

A police report filed in that incident listed Leslie’s BAC as 0.202, per a portable breath test.

Court records show Leslie was placed on alcohol monitoring following the 2017 arrests. Marion County uses a system that requires clients to blow into the mouthpiece of a machine at the home that will detect any alcohol present in their body. While both 2017 cases against Leslie remain pending, it was not immediately clear whether he was still on alcohol monitoring at the time of Wednesday night’s incident.

An Indiana law passed in 2014 requires ignition interlock devices – which require drivers to blow into an alcohol meter before starting their vehicle – for second-time offenders. The law also allows judges to require first-time offenders to use ignition interlock devices, but does not mandate it.

Pam Kelshaw, of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, told RTV6 she wants to see lawmakers close what MADD sees as a “loophole” for first-time offenders.

“That way they have to blow into this interlock before they can even start the car and it might even change the chances of impaired driving twice,” Kelshaw said.

Because of his extreme blood alcohol content, Leslie was transported to the hospital following his arrest Wednesday night. He had not yet appeared in court for an initial hearing.

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