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DUI Charges Filed Against Pennsylvania School Bus Driver

A Pennsylvania school bus driver has been charged with DUI, recklessly endangering another person, careless driving and reckless driving, after police allege she operated her school bus while under the influence of alcohol. Jennifer Watson of Columbia County is accused of being so disoriented on March 20, 2014, that she picked up students after school, and then eventually turned around and started driving her morning bus route to school. Students on the bus reported that Ms. Watson was both swearing and swerving. When met by police back at the school, Ms. Watson denied drinking, but admitted to eating rum soaked raisins to deal with headaches. school.bus.JPG

Rum soaked raisins are believed by some people to have magical healing properties for a number of ailments, including headaches and arthritis. I have personally never eaten rum soaked raisins, but I doubt that a normal portion of an ingredient used in cookies would have enough alcohol to raise one's blood alcohol level above the legal limit. At any rate, it is irrelevant whether Ms. Watson was drunk on rum soaked raisins or rum soaked Coke. Under Pennsylvania law, it does not matter what the source of the alcohol was. A driver is guilty of DUI as long as there is enough blood in a defendant's system to render her incapable of safe driving or raise her BAC above .08. rum-soaked-raisins-3.jpg

Normally, a person charged with a first offense DUI in Pennsylvania will receive ARD, which stands for "Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition." Successful completion of ARD leads to dismissal and expungement of the charges, and a reduced driver's license suspension. Although I doubt the District Attorney will approve Ms. Watson for ARD, given the circumstances of this case, she was already cut a break. She could have been charged with a count of endangering the welfare of a child for each child on her school bus.

Matt McClenahen is a criminal defense lawyer in State College, Pennsylvania, home of Penn State University. He has handled countless DUI cases over the past several decades, but never one involving alcoholic fruit or candy. http://www.mattmlaw.com/Criminal-Defense-Overview/DUI-Defense.shtml

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