Our View: Zero tolerance for bus drivers with alcohol in system?There appears to be a missing state statute as it relates to school bus drivers in Wisconsin.
There appears to be a missing state statute as it relates to school bus drivers in Wisconsin.
The omission became apparent last week when charges against a New Richmond bus driver were dropped.
In December, the local bus driver was charged with operating a commercial vehicle with a blood-alcohol level of more than .04. The bus driver had struck a parked car while on her route and apparently admitted that she had been drinking the night before. Preliminary breath tests confirmed the presence of alcohol. Reportedly 43 kids were on the bus at the time of the accident.
Alcohol content tests conducted later that day were apparently less than the .04 limit established in state statutes. That fact opened the door for the charges to be dismissed.
The .04 level for commercial drivers is half that allowed for motorists who are driving their own vehicles. Driving under the influence in most cases isn’t an offense unless someone registers at or above .08.
But for drivers who may be transporting others, the state has rightfully recognized that their irresponsible behavior should not jeopardize others.
Trouble is, the current level established by the state as “acceptable” is anything but acceptable.
We would encourage a measure that makes it a crime to drive a bus if any alcohol is present in the licensed driver’s bloodstream. Zero tolerance is the only logical level to establish when the safety of school children is involved.
Local officials were obviously frustrated by the news that charges would not be pursued in the recent case. But, now that the issue is fresh, the time is right for them to talk frankly with legislators about strengthening state laws related to bus drivers so the situation doesn’t repeat itself in the future.