The school bus driver accused of driving under the influence with students onboard had a large bottle of tequila, small bottles of vodka and prescription pills in her purse, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday.
Carole Ann Etheridge was arrested Monday and charged with one count of DUI and 16 counts of endangering a child, according to the sheriff’s office. She was fired the same day, the Walton school system said.
A toxicology report showed Etheridge had a .043 blood alcohol level. That's over the limit of .04 for commercial drivers.
There were 31 students on the bus, but 16 were under the age of 14, Walton schools spokeswoman Callen Moore said.
“If my child were on that bus and he was 15, I would think this law would apply to him, but obviously the code section only allows us to charge them if they were under the age of 14,” Walton sheriff’s Chief Deputy Keith Brooks told Channel 2 Action News.
After someone reported the driver’s erractic driving, Etheridge was stopped at Loganville Middle School and removed from the bus, according to the district.
“The Walton County School District does not tolerate any behavior that jeopardizes the safety of our students,” Moore said in a statement. “We appreciate the swift action of our transportation department and local law enforcement officers to ensure the safety of our students.”
Etheridge started driving for Walton County schools in March, and school leaders said a background check showed no problems, Channel 2 reported. Etheridge previously worked for the Gwinnett school system but was fired in January for “unsatisfactory perfomance,” the district told Channel 2.
Etheridge spent about two hours in jail Monday before she was released on $25,762 bond, the sheriff’s office said.
—Staff writer Steve Burns contributed to this article.
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