Bus driver drove students while more than 3 times legal limit - WNEM TV 5

Bus driver drove students while more than 3 times legal limit

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Tammy Costello was arrested for drunken driving with 20 students on her bus. (Farmington police photo) Tammy Costello was arrested for drunken driving with 20 students on her bus. (Farmington police photo)

A bus driver in Farmington was arrested for being three times the legal limit while driving students to school.

Police said Tammy Costello, 44, faces 20 counts of risk of injury to a minor. She is employed by M&J Bus Inc.

An officer en route to the Irving Robbins Middle School happened to be behind Costello's bus on Wednesday. He said he saw the bus' tires swerve partially off the pavement and onto a grassy area.

The officer followed the bus to the school without noticing any other violations. However, students told the officer that Costello had hit several curbs over the course of their trip.

The officer spoke to the driver and immediately suspected that she was intoxicated. She then failed field sobriety tests.

"It's not uncommon for our officers to be there for drop off and greet the kids when they get off the bus," Farmington Police Lt. Colin Ryan said. "I suspect the officer had his suspicions based on what he saw when he was following the bus driver and he did his due diligence and made a point to be present."

Costello was brought to the Farmington Police Department where her breath tests were .139 and .134. The legal limit for commercial drivers in Connecticut is .04. 

Police said there were 20 students on board, but none of them were hurt.

Monday was the first day of classes for all Farmington Public Schools students. School officials are notifying their parents on the third day of school. 

"It's worrying that we're sending our kids and we trust these people to take care of them," James Warren, of Farmington, said. "And apparently some feel like it's OK to arrive at work like that, and put our kids lives at risk."

Police said they have contacted the Department of Motor Vehicles,"who will be conducting an audit to ensure M&J is complying with state statutes."

Costello works for M&J Bus Company. In the statement on Wednesday,  they said Costello was suspended during the investigation

"We hold our employees to the highest expectations and safety is our number one priority. We apologize to the Farmington community for this incident as we are a long-standing Farmington company and we are deeply committed to the safety of all Farmington students. We thank the Farmington Police Department, Principal Donahue and the Farmington schools for their quick response to this incident," M&J said. 

The company, who is cooperating with the police investigation, also said all employees go through a background check by the DMV before they can transport students.

M&J also conducts alcohol and drug testing when a driver is hired and does random testing as well.

Costello was released on a $25,000 and scheduled to face a judge on Sept. 2. 

Eyewitness News went to the home of Costello, but no one answered the door. 

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