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Bus driver: Prior DUI for boozing bus driver caught drinking and driving kids

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Boozing bus driver with a prior? A 44-year-old Connecticut bus driver who was arrested Wednesday morning for DUI has a prior citation on her driving record for driving while under the influence of alcohol, state inspectors have learned. The driver for Farmington schools, operated by M&J Bus Company, was arrested after police officers saw the bus swerving and ramming into curbs.

Writes The Associated Press, via MSN News: “Connecticut officials examined a school bus company's records after one of its drivers was charged with driving drunk with 20 children on her bus, and authorities learned the woman had been arrested before on a DUI charge.”

The bus driver was identified as Tammy Costello, whose blood-alcohol level was tested at more than three times the 0.04 legal limit for commercial drivers. She was charged with one count each of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and reckless driving, and 20 counts of risk of injury to a minor.

Costello was seen driving erratically during her morning run for the Irving A. Robbins Middle School. Officers followed her into the school and placed her under arrest shortly after dropping the children off.

Her arrest and the subsequent discovery that she had a DUI prior is not sitting well with community members and parents. State officials on Thursday pulled Costello’s records at M&J after tracing her DMV record and finding a previous DUI charge from 2004.

“They are required to do an annual driving history in the state of Connecticut which must be on file for all their drivers,” DMV spokesman William Seymour said. “We want to see what is in their records and talk to them.”

According to the New Britain Herald, M&J officials “contended Thursday that they checked Costello’s driving record when she was hired by the company and continued to check her driving history each year, but the arrest wasn’t on her DMV record.”

“All of our background checks are in compliance,” said company vice president Mike Collins, while admittedly calling the incident a “nightmare.”

DMV officials say the previous DUI was expunged from Costello’s record after she entered an alcohol education program. Though the DUI was removed from her record, the fact that she attended the program remains. Costello was hired by M&J in 2011; since then she also received a ticket for speeding in 2013 while driving her personal vehicle.

Collins said Costello’s DMV record was checked annually, as required. It’s unclear how the company missed the fact she was assigned to alcohol education, an error that Superintendent of Schools Kathleen Greider called “intolerable.”

Collins said: “We are also looking at our policies within the company to see how we can improve them.”

Costello is to appear Tuesday in Hartford Superior Court.

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