The driver of a school bus in another southeastern state only a few hours from Huntsville faces drunk driving charges, accused of driving nearly 60 children while intoxicated.
Authorities also filed 40 counts of first-degree wanton endangerment. Those 40 counts represent the number of children first believed to be on board the bus while the woman drove. After additional investigation, officials determined the bus carried 59 children, and additional charges are anticipated.
The woman, 54, has driven a bus for the school district for 17 years. She has no criminal history, and the school superintendent said his department previously had received no complaints from parents or others during her time with the district. She no longer works for the school district, he said. Drunk driving charges can often mean the loss of a job, especially if that job involves driving.
In her initial court appearance, the judge said the court had located a bed for her at a rehabilitation center if she chose to accept it. Two days later, the woman remained in the county jail, held on a $25,000 cash bond. A grand jury soon is expected to hear the case.
The investigation into the woman's driving that day began after a parent allegedly phoned to complain about the driver's actions. The parent allegedly told district officials that she met her children at the bus, and that the parent believed the driver was drunk. Transportation officials notified the superintendent and then set out to look for the bus.
The woman was transported back to school district headquarters. When the county sheriff gazed through the window of the woman's personal automobile, they allegedly saw an 18-pack of beer in the car.
The woman took a breath test that measured her blood-alcohol content at 0.192, according to her arrest warrant. The legal limit in the state is 0.04 for people driving a commercial vehicle. In Alabama, a school bus driver is considered legally drunk with a blood alcohol content of higher than 0.02.
Source: The Daily News, "Bus driver in DUI case could face new counts," Deborah Highland, March 18, 2012