She said she thought she was OK when she woke up, took a shower and ate breakfast.
A Breathalyzer administered by Walton sheriff’s Lt. Artie Rodriguez proved otherwise, officials said.
“That little bitty sample you gave me, no matter how small it was, just registered,” Rodriguez said in the recording.
Etheridge, 49, said she was “just shocked that it registered at all.”
Rodriguez followed the Breathalyzer with a field sobriety test, during which Etheridge said she was nervous and too weak to successfully stand on one leg.
“Because of what’s going on here,” Rodriguez said, “you’re going to be placed under arrest for DUI and putting all those little babies’ safety at risk.”
There were 31 students on the bus. Sixteen were under the age of 14, Walton schools spokeswoman Callen Moore said.
Etheridge was charged with one count of DUI and 16 counts of endangering a child, according to the Walton sheriff’s office. She was fired the same day, according to the school district.
At the time of her arrest, Etheridge had a large bottle of tequila, small bottles of vodka and prescription pills in her purse, The AJC previously reported.
A toxicology report showed Etheridge had a .043 blood alcohol level. That's over the limit of .04 for commercial drivers.
An administrator said in the audio recording that Etheridge made a bad decision and never would have been able to take it back if she had hit a child on the road.