DUI Conviction Could Prevent You From Driving a School Bus
By: Mike Stetzer
A Columbus-Dispatch story detailing how Ohio lags behind other states in terms of limiting people with previous DUI convictions to drive school buses once again reinforces an important lesson about how a DUI may affect other areas of your life for years to come!
According to the story, 22 other states impose tougher restrictions on school-bus drivers than Ohio, which does not let people drive school buses if they've been caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the previous two years. The story also states that there are no state standards requiring past driver histories in at least 14 other states, which give individual districts responsibility for determining hiring procedures for bus drivers. Georgia, North Dakota and Wyoming are just some states that leave the rule-making about past drug or alcohol convictions up to the specific school district.
This revealing story was prompted by a recent incident in which an Ohio bus driver was arrested after making an illegal turn. It was quickly discovered that the bus driver, Lawrence H. Battle, had a syringe full of cocaine on him and three previous DUI convictions. The company employing Battle, First Student Inc, quickly shut down all of its drivers from operating buses when it realized that none of them had undergone any background checks. Ohio schools were forced to close for two days due to the lack of drivers!
While the Columbus-Dispatch story depicts the controversy about the current law concerning bus drivers and previous Ohio DUI convictions, it also reveals how other states have gone way beyond federal requirements of bus drivers, who need to have a valid commercial driver's license and undergo training.
- Texas employs one of the toughest stances concerning this issue. Specifically, any person convicted of Texas DUI can never drive a school bus. Other states like Kansas, New Hampshire and Utah say that a person previously convicted of DUI must wait 10 years after the conviction to even be considered for certification as a bus driver. Maine requires three years to pass. Other states have debated whether older drunk driving convictions, like one from 20 years ago, should automatically rule out a person from being a bus driver.
- Many other states conduct criminal background checks and bar any person convicted of serious of violent crimes from driving a bus. North Dakota is one state seriously considering enhanced background check legislation.
- Like Ohio, West Virginia has a two-year ban on bus driving following a DUI conviction. Unlike Ohio, this state will not let a person ever work as a bus driver again if convicted of a second West Virginia DUI.
Ultimately, this Columbus-Dispatch story teaches an important lesson about the severity of DUI convictions. Many people may think of DUI penalties in terms of probation, driver's license suspension or even jail time with the possibility of a prison term. These DUI penalties are often thought of as having an effect for a certain amount of time. In reality, DUI convictions may affect a person for years to come and be the difference in terms of employment opportunities, as this story about bus drivers with previous DUI convictions demonstrates.