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Columbus school bus driver charged with DUI; no kids hurt

Calling it “a real shock,” Columbus City Schools spokesperson Jeff Warner last week addressed the DUI incident that had many Columbus residents concerned and talking.

Any news story focusing on the potential for a motor vehicle accident or the aftermath of an actual crash is always of interest to the public. That interest is certainly rendered more acute, however, when the details that centrally emerge involve a drunk bus driver operating her vehicle while students are on the bus.

And driver Tia Denton was not simply at or near the threshold of being deemed legally drunk when she was pulled over by police officers around 5:35 p.m. on November 25 (Monday of last week).

In fact, police officials say that the breath test they administered her recorded a blood alcohol level of 0.216. That is close to three times higher than the legal limit that is used to designate a drunk driver. That limit is 0.08 in Ohio and all other states.

The comments issued by Warner undoubtedly resonated with parents of bus-riding children across the city.

“This is something we will absolutely not tolerate,” said Warner.

Denton was charged on a number of criminal counts, including drunk driving and endangering children. Police also found an open container of alcohol on the bus, and criminally charged her for that as well.

Thankfully, the bus was not involved in any accident. At the time Denton was stopped (after being reported by a witness who noted her driving erratically), there were only two students on the bus. They were significantly late getting home, given that Denton had strayed from her customary route.

“We were happy we got to that bus,” said a police sergeant.

Source: Columbus Dispatch, "School bus driver was drunk while taking kids home, police say," Jim Woods, Nov. 26, 2013

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