Harsh penalty merited

An East Liverpool school bus driver arrested Saturday on a drunk driving charge faces more severe penalties than if he had been in his private car, we are pleased to report.

Still, legislators in both our states ought to consider even harsher penalties for similar offenses.

On Saturday afternoon, members of the East Liverpool High School boys varsity basketball team were on their way to a game in Carrollton.

Their coaches became concerned about the bus driver when he rounded a curve too fast.

After one of the coaches smelled alcohol near the driver, he was ordered to pull off the road. A substitute driver was found.

The original one, Donald E. Goodwin, 62, was arrested.

Good for the coaches. They may have prevented a tragedy.

In both Ohio and West Virginia, drivers of commercial vehicles, including school buses, can be arrested for driving under the influence if their blood alcohol content exceeds 0.04%. That is twice the level required to ticket a passenger car driver for DUI.

In addition, both states have stiffer penalties for anyone, bus driver or not, who is carrying one or more young passengers when arrested for DUI.

In the Buckeye State, a DUI conviction carries with it a jail sentence of up to six months if a passenger under age 18 was present.

In West Virginia, presence of a passenger under 16 can result in a jail sentence of two days to 12 months.

Ohio lawmakers ought to require at least a week in jail for those who drink and drive with minors in the car, truck — or bus.

Ditto for West Virginia, but the age cutoff should be increased to 18.

We rely on school bus drivers to keep precious cargo, our children and grandchildren, safe. Those who drink, then get behind the wheel of a bus should be punished with exceptional severity.