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FIRST ON 3: Teacher admitted texting, blew 0.13 after school-night crash

READ MORE: FIRST ON 3: Teacher admitted texting, blew 0.13 after school-night crash

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Texting and driving is never a good thing, especially if you've been drinking. A New Hanover County teacher admitted she was doing at least of those things when she hit a van last week. Highway Patrol says she was doing the other.

The Highway Patrol says Theresa Suzanne Jones-Carpenter was just one of 81 weekend DWI arrests in the Cape Fear region. What makes her case unique is that the 36-year-old is a teacher at Castle Hayne Elementary School.

It was early Friday morning when a trooper says Jones-Carpenter rear-ended a van pulling into a parking lot off Dawson Street in Wilmington. On his report, Highway Patrol Sgt. C.M Hardee wrote, "The first thing she said was I was texting and didn't see him... I feel stupid." Hardee continued, "I could smell alcohol."

According to the report, in her first breath test Jones-Carpenter blew a point 0.13, followed by a point 0.12, which is well over the legal limit of 0.08. She is charged with DWI, texting while driving and failure to reduce speed.

We went to Jones-Carpenter's Wilmington home to try and get a comment, but she was not there.

In Castle Hayne, parents whose children go to the school where Jones-Carpenter works, did not want to go on camera, but said the teacher is entitled to her private life despite her public position.

Paperwork shows that Jones-Carpenter was slurring her speech after the crash, had red glossy eyes and a strong odor of alcohol on her breath. The trooper says she also had a bloody lip from the accident.

Jones-carpenter, who is listed as Suzanne Carpenter on the school's website, was booked into the New Hanover County Jail just after 4 a.m. Friday, which is about four hours before the school day started at Castle Hayne.

A school district spokeswoman says that no personnel action has been taken yet and that administrators are looking into what happened. There's no word yet on whether Jones-Carpenter missed work Friday or the two school day since. Today is the first day of winter break for the district.

Jones-Carpenter is due in court February 14.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.


In Texas you can have at

In Texas you can have at least two DWIs on your record and still teach. I was amazed that my ex-wife got her second DWI last spring and managed to keep her job and her certificate. As long as you go to rehab and follow the steps, you can't lose your job until the third one.

Thanks for the mistrial!!

The fact that WWAY and the idiot Trooper decided to print and make a video detailing the exact blood alcohol level of Mrs. Carpenter is all the ammunition she will need to get this DUI thrown out of court. How can she expect to get a fair and impartial jury at this point? The trooper knew he had done something wrong because in the Star News article he stated that he did not want to release the exact blood alcohol level because the case was still on-going. Merry Christmas Mrs. Carpenter, an overzealous reporter and a ignorant trooper may have just handed you a get out of jail free card.

Innocent Until Proven Guilty???

Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? It is amazing how everyone jumps to conclusions and assumes that the evidence is there and is totally accurate...The comments that some of you are writing are so hurtful.

I can honestly say that I have been a teacher smeared in the eyes of the public thanks to such WONDERFUL MEDIA COVERAGE (hence the sarcasm)! I, myself, was found innocent of all of my charges, but, it was too late then...Too bad the media wasn't as eager to do a follow-up story on my innocence, like they did when my charges were filed.

What I can say to this teacher is you will get through this someday. Your humiliation and days of being publicly smeared will fade. I am so sorry that anyone would have this happen. I am still going through problems for that incident. Hold your head high and pray a lot! You will definitely be in my prayers!

I personally know this

I personally know this woman. She is nothing but smiles and laughter and a good heart. Everybody makes mistakes, everybody has a bad day and once in every persons life, they are put in a bad situation. She did make a mistake. Haven't you? You people should stop arguing and being so rude about it. Obviously, its an awful thing that happened and I feel awful for her and wish her nothing but the best in her future but EVERY PERSON MAKES A MISTAKE. and to answer all the " WHAT IF's". SURE IT COULD OF HAPPENED, but it didn't. So let's all focus on the FACTS and what really did happen instead of what could of. I'm thankful nobody got hurt and I hope all of you have a merry christmas and stop worrying about her mistake.


Yes we all make mistakes - defined as "to blunder in a choice or make an error in something" but then we can make stupid mistakes ' defined as "the state of being foolish and unintelligent". She did not make a mistake - she showed utter stupidity. She chose to drink and drive and then text, which compounded the problem. She may be a good teacher - but she set a sorry example to students and parents alike and for that she must suffer the consequences.

And to respond another way - I am 54, don't drink and drive (don't drink period) and I don't do texting.

I'm normally quite judgemental about these sorts of things

but attractive young women should be held to a different standard. If she says she's sorry, we should give her another chance. She already said she felt stupid for texting while hitting the van. I think this is sufficient.

Everyone upset at the local media.......

Where is your outrage for all the other folks who broke the law and ended up on the local news? I don't see 100+ comments defending anyone else. I'm sure some of those others were good people too. It sounds to me like this one hits a little too close to home for many.

This discussion is over!

This discussion is over! Someone has been accused of being a Nazi!!

That's the last insult in a futile argument.

Way to go WWAY

It is unbelievable to me that there is no better headline for your news report than a DUI arrest. Just how many DUI arrests are made per night in New Hanover County, especially now during the Holiday Season. I work with this teacher, and know her personally. I know that she is a wonderful and caring teacher who does nothing but her best to ensure her students are exceeding their grade level goals. I cannot believe that you would run her name through the mud for making a bad decision (outside of work hours) that I am sure we all have made at some point in time. Although she may be a teacher she is also a human being. She has a personal life outside of work, just like we all do. I am sure that she is not the only teacher that maintains a social life outside of her career. The decisions she makes outside of her working hours does not reflect what kind of teacher she is or how she works with her children. I'm sure there are lots of other people that are doing major criminal acts that you could be taking your time to prosecute.
And for those of you who have no idea how the system works, she was arrested at 12:15, on her way home, but wasnt booked until 4 am!! Give me a break! You all act holier than though, as if you have never made a mistake in your life!! Get a life people!!!!!!!

Face Reality

It's hardly fair to blame WWAY for the poor decision that this teacher made. They're just reporting the facts. It's public information. WWAY didn't "run her name through the mud"...she did by her choice to drive drunk.

She could have just as easily called a friend, family member, or a taxi to take her home. There's nothing wrong with having a social life, and even having a few drinks. But you don't get behind the wheel of a car and drive after those drinks. It's illegal, it's dangerous, and it's a life threatening decision. Her decision to drive drunk placed others at risk. She could have killed someone. And if she had, those same ones defending her now on this forum would be outraged and just as vocal about that. Having had only a fender bender was just plain lucky. It could have just as easily been a person.

Ridin Dirty in the 910

I feel bad for this woman, but when you take a job like teacher, firefighter, cop, etc you know a mistake like this may make the news. Fair or not, you know what you signed up for. Don't do the crime......

Also, it does not help keeping things hush when you crash into one of the local newspaper's distribution vans.

Ehhhhhhh um!

Sorry, had to clear my throat. Just wanted to reiterate something Scott hit on in his post. When a public figure such as a Lawyer, Law Enforcement Officer, Mayor, Teacher, Or someone famous such as KBlue gets arrested? Its made public. Why? We are roll models and are held to a higher standard. Had it been a Police Officer? would anyone be saying "Awe poor fella"? I'll answer that, "NOPE", He/she would already be on the end of the rope! Why? I'll answer that too "they are held to a higher standard" I get the "she made a mistake" thing, I get the "we all make mistakes" thing as well. But we all know when we take these positions that this could happen. Go read the post's about the sick twisted North Topsail Beach Police Officer that got caught peeking in a young women's window and read how many people wrote "awe he made a mistake"! Or "why do you have to put that on the news"?

My "Opinion" is if your gonna post one public official for wrong doing? Post them all. Nuff said......Say's who? Say's Kblue!


Kblue, I really think you post just to see your name. Nuff said.

Kblue? I'm tired of you.

At first you were kind of amusing, but now I'm tired of your half-wit comments. Maybe you should just sit out some of these articles, Champ.

K-blue, I'm your friend,

K-blue, I'm your friend, believe that it's true. Let me help with some editing before your detractors do. A roll may be a list, like a list of students in a class. It may mean to turn over and over. It may also mean a "bun" in the north or what a chair does when you push with your feet while sitting on your

A role is an expected behavior in a social context.


If you're planning on spending your time correcting Kblue's grammar and/or punctuation, you're going to be here all day. Some things just ain't worth the effort.


"are not" Say's who? Say's Kblue!


I have always been terrible at math!!!Say's who? Say's Kblue!

Cautionary Tale.

She had it coming. Still, I feel sorry for her. She made a very bad choice and now has to pay the consequences. Seriously, texting while driving by itself is more dangerous than a .12 and driving (.13 will not exist in court). Anyway,

drinking and driving + texting while driving = Super Dangerous

Blessing in disguise

Yes its news, and like they say, a drunk or junkie needs to rock bottom before they can get better. This could be an alcoholic hitting bottom.

Yes its news - parents and children depend on her. Just as much news as a fireman or police officer. Not so much if a painter, construction, sales or whatever, where the job depends on you, not society.

I don't pity her at all. My family could have been on that road. I'd rather see a drunk go to jail before they hit a tree and destroy their family, or worse, destroy mine.

I wonder...

Scott and Kevin (WWAY Staff),
I wonder what skeletoms would fall out of your closets if somebody opened them. You guys talk a big game but would you if the roles were reversed??? Maybe one day we will find out.

Guest1122111 - we didn't go

Guest1122111 - we didn't go prying into her closets to see what kind of skeletons she has. We reported a story on someone who broke the law last week.

We covered a woman who not only had an accident - who not only admitted to texting while driving - who not only had been drinking before she chose to get behind the wheel - who not only blew a .13 - but who also blew a .13 less than eight hours before she was to report to work to teach elementary school kids.

That's not a skeleton - that's a problem that was committed in public.

What if SHE had been the victim of a drunk driver? This community would be up in arms, demanding that we hang the drunk immediately.

What if she had hit YOUR family member or someone YOU loved and hurt them badly?

I get that many of our readers are emotional about this story. And I get that there were a number of other DWI's that night - and it appears that we are singling her out.

The truth is, we got a tip that it happened and we felt that because she was a teacher, the community has higher expectations of her than some of her peers in society. So we felt that it was newsworthy.


Scott Pickey
WWAY News Director

What if

You guys are killing me with the "what if" hypothetical doomsday scenarios, "what if" she had killed someone etc.... well she didn't. We can look at any situation and take the worst possible conclusion and say what if. What if the next time you're driving and talking on your cell phone you hit a pedestrian? What if you're driving 5 mph over the speed limit and cause a fatal accident? What if the next time you cut a corner, make the smallest mistake, or have the slightest lapse of judgement it ends up resutlting in the worst case scenario? It is completely pointless to harp on "what if", deal with the facts of what actually happened and leave it at that. If you thought this was newsworthy because she's a teacher and her behavior on the night in question may be indicative of what type of teacher she may be or may diminish her effectiveness as an educator then maybe you should take the time to interview some parents of children in her class who can shed some light on the issue.

Well put Scott

Don't let the lowlife criminal defenders have one inch. No different than the punks that are breaking & entering, holding up stores or any other crime.
No excuse and it isn't a mistake. All criminal activities are active choices made by a criminal. It really is just that simple.


Well put! Say's who? Say's Kblue!

The Right Thing

Keep doing your job, Scott. She broke the law, it's public information, and we have a right to know what kinds of teachers are influencing our kids on a daily basis. You did the right thing. It's a shame we can't say the same thing about her.

Yeah baby...she broke the

Yeah baby...she broke the law! I say she should be imprisoned for life! And have her tubes tied so she can't reproduce more lowlife lawbreaking scum! While we're at it, maybe she should have to undergo electroshock treatments to remove those lowlife tendencies which obviously would endanger the prison population who would be unfortunate enough to be exposed to her.

Mob Mentality

What the young lady did wasn't smart, but I'd bet my Christmas bonus that all of you acting holier than though have done the same thing at one time or another only you didn't caught.

Yes, she's a teacher. Yes, she should know better, but we all make mistakes. And if convicted she will pay! Her insurance will double if not triple. She'll probably lose her license, followed by her job. When she applies for other jobs, the firing and DUI will follow her for life.

Like others have pointed out, why not post the other 79 DUI picture's convictees. Why single her out? I guess Joe Housewife getting caught for DUI just isn't sensational enough for you.

This country is falling to FASCISM and this is the best story you can come up with? God help us all.

I can tell you as a fact

I can tell you as a fact that I have never gotten behind the wheel drunk. A mistake is locking your keys in the car or showing up for an appointment on the wrong day or other things like that. What she did was a choice. And like it or not any criminal is subject to public scrutiny. As for this station choosing to run with this story, they weren't the only ones. It was on the other news station's website and it was in the paper as well. And regardless of whether or not the news outlets ran the story, her name would have appeared in the criminal docket that is published in the paper.

Mob Mentality?

There's no mob mentality here. Just a group of law abiding people who believe teachers shouldn't be singled out as exempt from public information regarding committed crimes. Yes, it's a crime to drink and drive (and text while driving) in the State of North Carolina.

If she gets fired, she brought it on herself. WWAY didn't make her take that drink and then get in her car, and they didn't make her text while she was driving. She chose to do it, knowing it was an illegal activity. She could have killed someone...she's really lucky that she didn't.

I know that if I drive drunk and get arrested, I'll lose my license. I'm sure she knows the same thing. But she chose to risk her job anyway. Why should she be held any less accountable just because she's a teacher? That's certainly a position that requires MORE accountability, not less.

No, I've never driven drunk or even considered it. Law abiding citizens don't drink and then drive. I value my life, other people's lives and property, and my job too much to risk it.

If you want to see the other DUI's, check out the Star News website. They show pictures and names. It's public information.