Wrong Message

Last winter, Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Tiffany Wilson found herself on the wrong end of a traffic stop. Her post’s lieutenant pulled her over for driving 102 mph on Interstate 71 in Morrow County.

Then a test revealed Wilson had been drinking. Her blood alcohol level was 0.16 percent, twice the legal limit in Ohio. She was convicted of driving under the influence.

Highway Patrol officials considered the situation, then fired Wilson for conduct unbecoming an officer. She appealed the decision.

An arbitrator has ruled the punishment was too harsh. Noting Wilson had a good record in her 12 years with the Highway Patrol, the arbitrator ordered she must be reinstated – with back pay – through a “last chance” arrangement under which any other work-related violation can result in termination.

She will be required to submit to random drug and alcohol testing.

In many situations, Wilson might have deserved a second chance. Not this one, however.

More than 300 Ohioans die each year in DUI-related accidents. Getting intoxicated drivers off the road is among the Highway Patrol’s most important duties.

So officials were right to fire Wilson. They understood giving her a second chance would have sent the wrong message about drunken driving.

Now, thanks to the arbitrator’s skewed sense of priorities, they have no choice but to send that message.