The M&J school bus driver arrested Wednesday for allegedly driving a bus full of 20 middle school students while drunk, had a previous DUI charge, the Hartford Courant reports.
Bristol resident Tammy Costello, 44, is charged with driving under the influence, failure to drive right and 20 counts of risk of injury to a minor in the incident Wednesday.
Costello was charged with drunk driving back in 2004 in her hometown of Bristol, the Courant reports. The newspaper also said she completed the state's Alcohol Education Program in 2005 and those charges were dropped.
An officer heading to Irving A. Robbins Middle School on Wednesday morning was behind the school bus when he saw the bus partially swerve off the pavement, Farmington Police Lieutenant Colin Ryan said.
The officer followed the bus to the school, and when he greeted the students getting off the bus several of them told the officer the driver had been driving poorly.
"A couple of them made reference to the fact that the bus may have hit a curb or two along the way," Ryan said.
Costello failed a series of field sobriety tests, and her blood alcohol content was tested twice. The tests came back showing her BAC was .134 and .139. Both of these results are three times the .04 legal limit for operating a commercial vehicle.
Costello was then taken into custody. All 20 students were brought to the nurse's office where they were evaluated. None of them had any injuries.
"This is a rarity. This isn't a common thing in the state let alone in the town of Farmington,” Ryan said.
After learning of the situation, Farmington’s superintendent of schools sent out a letter to parents calling for a complete investigation.
“This is the first incident of this nature that we have experienced with the M & J Bus Company; however, we hold this company to high expectations when it comes to the safety and security of our students,” Superintendent Kathleen Greider wrote.
M&J also released a statement.
“The M & J Bus Company is appalled at the incident that occurred this morning involving one of our bus drivers. We are committed to working closely with the Farmington Police Department to conduct a thorough investigation of this incident. Please know that thorough background checks of all employees are conducted by the Department of Motor Vehicles before employees are allowed to transport students. In addition, M & J conducts alcohol and drug testing when individuals are hired as well as rigorous random alcohol and drug testing.”
According to M&J, Costello is suspended pending the investigation. She was released on $25,000 non-surety bond.
Farmington Public Schools released the following statement about the incident: