It’s a confusing day in Gillette, Wyoming where a school bus driver’s DUI charge was completely dismissed because prosecutors were unable to locate a prominent witness in the case. The charges arose when Barbara J. Sleeth was arrested on May 1st. Someone had reported that they had seen the bus driver driving recklessly in a residential area. It was said that Sleeth ran several stop signs and was speeding and frequently leaving the road entirely.
This was all according to witness reports, though. When she was pulled over, she also failed a field sobriety test and said that she had taken over-the-counter medications and prescription medications the night before. She was then arrested on DUI charges and then further charged with 5 counts of reckless endangering. Five students were on the bus at the time of the incident.
Here’s where things would get extremely brighter for the 58-year-old defendant and any attorney she would have hired. This was not a clear cut case where she failed a breathalyzer but a case where she admitted to taking legal, over the counter and prescription medications. It was on the prosecution to prove that Sleeth had driven while under the influence. They failed to do so not just because there wasn’t a breathalyzer or any evidence that she was driving under the influence but because the witnesses that could have made the case more solid failed to show up in court and testify.
All charges were dismissed on Friday and Sleeth is free to continue on about her business. The Campbell County Attorney’s office did say, however, that if the witness is relocated, they will refile the case and continue to seek charges against the 58-year old Sleeth.
Cases like this highlight just how important it is to retain a lawyer in DUI cases. Websites like DUIwise serve as a gateway to help for people like Sleeth. When they’re faced with a very questionable arrest and a subjective field sobriety test where police officers don’t always make the right call on what is pass or fail, it’s important to have a lawyer who can seize on weaknesses in the case. For example, some people simply can’t walk in a straight line. They may have neurological or joint disorders that cause them to have difficulty walking. At 58-years old, Sleeth may have failed some field sobriety tests just because they require an agility a 58-year-old might not still have left in them.
Wyoming’s DUI laws would have come into play during her ordeal. Wyoming has some of the strictest laws on DUI that exist. If there is other supporting evidence of a DUI, such as a failed field sobriety test, you can be found guilty with a breathalyzer of just 0.05% BAC. That’s much harsher than other states. Remember, though, that Sleeth didn’t even HAVE a breathalyzer result because she hadn’t been drinking before her arrest. She’d simply taken over the counter medication and prescription meds the night BEFORE the arrest. If this is true, her case is one of the few that might actually reach trial if the witness is found. Even in the state of Wyoming, officers reacted harshly to the situation.
For now, Sleeth is free and is not facing any charges, but as prosecutors pointed out if they can find the witnesses they are going to refile the case. Perhaps this is because of Sleeth’s occupation as a bus driver. She is entrusted to take care of the lives of children and we all agree that children are precious. Any kind of intoxication while driving a school bus is definitely not permitted, and officers felt that Sleeth was impaired at the time of her arrest, even if it wasn’t on alcohol.
Wyoming penalties for DUIs can be incredibly harsh as well, and judges in these cases tend to make examples of people who violate the law on this count, especially if they are transporting other people’s children while under the influence of any kind of medication or alcohol. For a first offense DUI, Sleeth would have faced a fine of $750 and up to 6 months in jail. That’s a very steep penalty for a first DUI, even by other tough state standards.
More information may come out of this case later on, especially if the key witness resurfaces and agrees to go to court and testify. It’s at that point that Sleeth could definitely use the advice of DUIwise.com. They have explicit advice on how to outright beat a DUI charge no matter what the circumstances were surrounding the arrest. The site believes heavily in the use of lawyers to face such charges. So many people face a DUI charge and believe there’s absolutely nothing that can be done about it. In reality, DUI lawyers do more than just get your case dismissed if you’re innocent. Even if you were guilty of a DUI, a good lawyer can negotiate with prosecutors on your behalf so that you can avoid jail time, receive lesser fines, perhaps have the charge reduced to a lesser offense, or in worst case scenarios, so that you can get the best possible punishment. Even in the worst of cases, good DUI lawyers are able to intervene on your behalf and get you a sentence that will be much less harsh than if you had simply pleaded guilty and gone it on your own.
Incoming information about this case will be updated if it is brought back into the light. As of now, though, Sleeth is finally free of this embarrassing and scary incident. Hopefully, she will get the help she needs and learn how to use her medication more responsibly in the future so that she doesn’t endanger children any further. Since nothing was ever proven in a court of law, it’s safe to say that at least for now, she’s innocent and she can now make wiser decisions in her life that will help her avoid any incidents like this again in the future.