The South Carolina Highway Patrol claims that a Spartanburg County high school teacher and athletic coach was under the influence of alcohol when she drove seven students to a track meet on Sept. 26. The 42-year-old woman has been charged with child endangerment and DUI. The incident occurred on Interstate 26 in North Charleston.
According to a state police report, the SUV being driven by the woman was pulled over for erratic driving after emergency calls had been received about a vehicle being driven in a reckless manner. Troopers claimed that they detected a strong odor of alcohol coming from the driver of the SUV. The woman was taken into custody after troopers say she performed poorly during a number of field sobriety tests. The woman reportedly refused to submit to a breath test after performing the sobriety exercises.
The parents of the student athletes traveling in the SUV were subsequently contacted and asked to pick up their children. A Spartanburg County School District representative reported that the teacher was suspended from her duties. The representative added that the woman would remain on administrative leave while the incident was investigated by law enforcement.
This case indicates how a drunk driving incident could lead to professional sanctions as well as criminal penalties. This incident also demonstrates how law enforcement officers may rely upon the subjective results of field sobriety tests when making decisions about a motorist’s level of impairment. A criminal defense attorney may question the judgment of police in these situations, and they may point out to prosecutors that field sobriety exercises might be unreliable in certain situations.
Source: WSPA.com, “Dash Cam Video Released In SHS Coach DUI Arrest”, October 21, 2014