Parents frustrated over bus driver’s plea agreement for DUI charge
Parents are expressing frustration over the fate of a school bus driver, who crashed his bus, while under the influence.
We first reported Monday that the driver who crashed his Hoover school bus in January has reached a plea agreement. If he meets the requirements, he'll have the DUI charge removed from his record.
Mark Pierce is also expected to be able to get his commercial license reinstated after a one year suspension, according to information from the Department of Public Safety.
Shontel Wyatt is one mom who doesn’t agree with the deal, which provides for a second chance.
“Cause he had a first one and he blew it so no,” she said. “So, no he don’t need a second chance. Cause that’s putting my child in danger."
Wyatt's children take the bus to school each day. She emphasizes the responsibility bus drivers have.
“You’re supposed to be sober when you’re driving these kids cause it’s not safe,” said Wyatt.
She's not happy to hear former Hoover school bus driver Mark Pierce signed a deal that could remove the DUI from his record.
Pierce was charged with blood alcohol level of .14, more than three times the legal limit in a commercial vehicle.
“If I find out he’s driving, my baby wouldn’t get on the bus at all,” Pierce said.
Defense attorney Richard Jaffe explains this deferred prosecution program is not uncommon for first time DUI’s. He says it includes education about drinking and driving and paying court costs.
“And ultimately if they complete that program, the conviction would basically be dismissed and they will not have a criminal record,” Jaffe said.
Jaffee says arrests can also be expunged from records, meaning no trace of the crime on a background check for future employers.
Not all first-time offenders are eligible for the program. Jaffe says prior criminal history, or having drugs or weapons in the car can disqualify someone.
Jaffe says ultimately, the DA’s office has discretion on the deals.
“It is at their discretion but I think the DA’s office wants to adhere to a pretty consistent policy because there’s no other way to have a credible program,” he explained.
Judge Michael Bell's office confirms he has signed this agreement.
District Attorney Mike Anderton says he's still investigating the case, to see if the facts match the plea agreement. He was unaware one of his assistant DA’s made this deal.
Pierce has not returned messages from ABC 33/40 seeking comment. His attorney told us he would not comment on the case.