Parents in a small Pennsylvania town felt justice was served this week when a school bus driver was sentenced to several months in prison for driving under the influence of alcohol.
According to PhillyBurbs.com, 45-year-old Kim Townsend was given a prison sentence that could last between four and 23 months.
In addition, the resident of Bensalem, Pennsylvania lost her driver’s license, must pay a fine of $1,000, and must complete 100 hours of community service.
Sources indicate that Townsend had been arrested after an incident in which she ran her school bus into a small car after dropping off a load of children.
When police arrived on the scene, they administered a breathalyzer test, and discovered that her blood alcohol level was .19, well above the legal limit for school bus drivers, which is .02, and also above the legal limit of .08 for other drivers.
After being confronted by police, Townsend admitted to drinking vodka before her shift, and expressed regret that she had endangered her young passengers by drinking before she drove.
Fortunately, though, when Townsend was involved in the accident, all 22 of the children who had been traveling in her bus had already been dropped off at their homes.
Nevertheless, a judge in Bucks County Circuit Court chastised Townsend during her sentencing, saying that it was a matter of “extreme seriousness,” and that the community should be “outraged” by Townsend’s actions.
The judge also reminded Townsend that if the accident had injured any of the children, she would be facing much more serious consequences, including a significantly longer prison sentence.
After the accident, Townsend, who had driving school buses in the district for more than 11 years, immediately resigned from her job, and apologized to the parents whose children she had endangered.
In court this week, Townsend admitted that she had “betrayed the trust” of her students and their families, and she promised that it “will never happen again.”
Of course, the odds of Townsend being re-admitted to the ranks of school bus drivers after her DUI arrest are very slim, so she may not have the opportunity to actively fulfill her promise.
At trial, a number of community members came to support Townsend, and her attorney recognized that the incident may eventually prove beneficial for the school bus driver, who will also seek counseling for her substance abuse problems while serving her jail sentence.
And, despite the outrage expressed by the judge, community members did not show up in droves to castigate the defendant. Even though prosecutors asked the parents of the children in Townsend’s bus to come support their case, no parents actually came to the trial.
It seems the community did not feel the need to further punish Townsend, whose record had been completely clear before the recent charges of drunk driving, child endangerment, and careless driving.