We all expect authority figures to do the right thing and act as models to which the rest of us may aspire. Regarding drinking and driving, I've already spoken of the responsibility that judges, prosecutors and police officers have to maintain the same standards which they expect average citizens to meet. But I now must add educators to this list, if only for the sake of our children. A recent article about a teacher in Mobile who was arrested for DUI is a sad commentary on the example that some people are setting for our youngsters.
As a Birmingham DUI defense lawyer, even I was shocked that this happened at all, much less at the beginning of a school day. Apparently on her way to school, Suzanne Morrison was spotted weaving through traffic on Interstate 10 around 8am on the morning of Tuesday, September 1, before a patrolman pulled her over.
As the officer approached Morrison's silver Pontiac Grand Prix, he noticed her drinking from a cup. According to reports, the officer detected a smell of alcohol on her breath, following which he located the cup with some alcohol remaining in it.
The 42-year-old Morrison was given a field sobriety test, which police say she failed. Later she was given a breath test to determine the blood-alcohol content (BAC) of her blood, but authorities have declined to release the results. Morrison was charged with DUI and placed in Mobile County Metro Jail overnight in lieu of $1,000 bond.
The sad part is that Morrison has 19 years of educational service to her credit — she was even named Teacher of the Year at the Chickasaw School of Mathematics and Science in 2002. News reports also indicate that she has been going through a divorce, which her husband initiated on Valentine's Day this year.
As for school officials, they have been placed on administrative leave for now and reportedly will wait until it is known if Morrison was in fact under the influence of alcohol, and if she was intending to go to work in such a condition. If so, she could be relieved her duties permanently. I can only hope that she may have learned a lesson herself.
Chickasaw teacher arrested for DUI while heading to school; was named school's top teacher in 2002, AL.com, September 2, 2009