TAZEWELL, VA (WJHL) – A Tazewell County, Va. bus driver was sentenced following a May 2015 indictment charging her with 22 counts of child endangerment and one count of driving a commercial vehicle while intoxicated.
According to a news release from the the Tazewell County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, Stephanie Ann Lowe, 39, of Bluefield, Va., was sentenced to 25 years for the child endangerment charges and 12 months for the DUI charge.
The judge then suspended 22 years of that sentence and ordered Lowe to serve three years in the state penitentiary, along with five years of supervised probation following her release.
According to the release, on Jan. 26, 2015, Lowe was driving her afternoon route in the Thompson Valley area of the county, when several children told their parents that their bus driver appeared to be intoxicated and said she was driving erratically.
One of the parents, an off-duty officer, then reportedly called dispatch and reported the incident, and then went to search for the bus, which he found on Myrtle Road.
Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office deputies were called to the scene and found the bus sitting in the middle of Myrtle Road, at the intersection of Thompson Valley Road.
Deputies said a strong odor of alcohol was coming from Lowe and she was given field sobriety tests.
A preliminary breath test on-scene showed a result of .30.
Lowe was arrested and taken to Tazewell Regional Jail where another test was given an hour later, which showed a .21 result.
“Parents should not have to worry about their child’s school bus driver being intoxicated when they put their children on a bus to attend school,” Michael Dennis, Commonwealth’s Attorney, said. “These types of crimes are completely preventable and should never occur. I am very proud of the children who were observant enough to know there was a problem and reported it immediately to their parents.”
According to the release, Lowe — who was being held on a bond violation of these charges — was taken back to Tazewell Regional Jail, where she will wait to be transferred to the Virginia Department of Corrections.
Copyright 2017 WJHL. All rights reserved.