Farmington bus driver charged with DUI took alcohol education - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Farmington bus driver charged with DUI took alcohol education classes

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Parents in Farmington are wondering how a woman arrested once for allegedly drinking and driving got behind the wheel of a school bus.

Police said Tammy Costello was arrested recently for allegedly driving a school bus with 20 students inside while she was drunk.

"You put your trust in these people to take care of your children from the second they walk out the door," said parent Jennifer Strauss. "Morally, she should not have been behind that wheel, knowing that there was an issue."

Police said the children told them they noticed Costello hit a few curbs during the drive to Robbins Middle School on Wednesday, and police got involved after an officer said he saw her swerve.

When Costello was pulled over, she failed a field sobriety test and the Breathalyzer clocked her at .139, which is three times the legal limit.

Eyewitness News knocked on the door of 44-year-old Costello's Bristol home but she was not there.

John Motowidlik of Farmington said he wasn't happy to hear that 10 years ago Costello was charged with a DUI, but her license was never suspended and the incident never made it on her record.

Department of Motor Vehicle officials said Costello challenged the arrest and won, so her license didn't get suspended. She also entered an alcohol educational program for first-time offenders. Admission into that program stays on the person's record for 55 years and would show up in any background checks.

Entering that program allowed her to escape the DUI from being attached to her permanent record, which allowed her to get a job with M&J Bus Company three years ago.

"I don't want people driving my kids drunk, it's just an unsettling feeling," Motowidlik said.

"You should be able to do your own background checks, just like you would for a babysitter coming to watch your children," Strauss added.

M&J Bus Company released an apologetic statement after the incident, but company Vice President Michael Collins said the 13-month alcohol educational program came up during the background check.

"This happened 10 years ago, she paid her price, the DMV felt she was safe enough to drive on our roads, so who am I to say she can't," Collins said.

He added that none of the company's bus drivers have DUI convictions, and he didn't know if any others were ever enrolled into the alcohol education program, but said it wouldn't keep them from getting a job. He said decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.

A new state law denies anyone that has been in the alcohol education program from getting a Commercial Drivers License, which was passed last year but it did not apply to Costello because she was grandfathered in after getting her license in 1997.

Costello is being charged with 20 counts of risk of injury to a minor.

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