Carole Ann Etheridge, 49, will appear in the Walton County Probate Court in October to face charges of driving under the influence and child endangerment.
According to Walton County Senior Asst. District Attorney Randy McGinley, the charges are traffic violations and as such are handled by the Probate Court. The child endangerment charges are for the 16 of the 31 students on the bus Monday morning who were under the age of 14, which is the case under Georgia law. Etheridge was booked into the Walton County Detention center at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017 and released two hours later on $25,762 bond – $1,042 on each of the child endangerment charges and $3,042 for the DUI charge.
Walton County School System public relations officer Callen Moore confirmed that Etheridge was fired from the Walton County School System immediately after the charges were filed. She had been employed with WCSD since March of this year.
“The Walton County School District does not tolerate any behavior that jeopardizes the safety of our students,” Moore said in a statement. “We appreciate the swift action of our transportation department and local law enforcement officers to ensure the safety of our students.”
“A school bus in Georgia requires a commercial driver’s license. When operating a commercial vehicle, you can be charged with DUI per se if your blood/breath alcohol concentration is 0.04 grams or greater within 3 hours of driving,” Crawford said, adding, however you can be charged with DUI less safe for any amount of alcohol in your system that makes you a less safe driver.