Leslie Turk

Judge reinstates Kenny Mire's driving privileges

by Leslie Turk

An administrative law judge has recalled the suspension of Kenny Joseph Mire’s driving privileges, finding that the arresting officer did not follow the instructions on the machine used to administer the breath test in connection with the Lafayette Parish School bus driver's OWI arrest. “Since the machine instructions were not complied with, the results of the test cannot be trusted as accurate,” Administrative Law Judge Carey R. Holliday wrote in the Dec. 21 order.

The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections suspended Mire’s license after he was arrested for off-duty OWI on Sept. 9 of last year. But after the test failed twice, the arresting officer did not wait the required 15 minutes to administer the test a third time; instead, Louisiana State Trooper Kellen J. Landry waited only four minutes. The results of the test showed Mire’s blood alcohol level to be 0.174 grams percent, which would have put him over the legal limit. It’s illegal in Louisiana to drive with a BAC of .08.

A few hours after he bonded out of jail, Mire got behind the wheel of a school bus and drove students to Acadiana High School and J. Wallace James Elementary School. That decision ignited a wave of furor among parents who were not notified of the arrest. But what was even more troubling to parents and the rest of this community is that the Lafayette Parish School Board had operated for decades without so much as a policy requiring its drivers arrested for on- or off-duty OWI — or any illegal drug charge, or any arrest for that matter — to notify the school system before returning to work, before driving or interacting with children. It has since enacted such a policy.

Mire, who has a long history of trouble with the law, has been fighting the OWI charge.

"There were many other reasons that could have been utilized in recalling the suspension,” writes Mire’s attorney, Barry Sallinger, in a brief statement faxed to The Independent Weekly. Sallinger, who lays out a compelling case in his position paper submitted to the judge, also notes that Mire was arrested for DWI at 10:24 p.m. but wasn’t read his Miranda rights until 11:24 p.m., “one hour after the arrest, clearly a violation of my client’s constitutional rights.” Sallinger also states that the trooper questioned Mire without the benefit of Miranda warning and then used those answers, which the attorney claims are inadmissable in court, to decide to administer the standardized field sobriety tests.

Sallinger could not be reached for comment this morning to discuss the upcoming criminal process for the OWI arrest or what the administrative law judge’s decision means for his client’s future as a school bus driver.

Lafayette Parish Transportation Director Bill Samec also could not be reached.

Read more about Mire's troubles and the role the school system and school board’s negligence played in this matter in The Independent Weekly’s Oct. 14, 2009, cover story, “Asleep at the Wheel.”