published Friday, March 18th, 2011

Teacher charged in DUI was on her way to school

  • photo
    Murray County school teacher, Jennifer Zeigler.
    Staff photo by Chattanooga Times Free Press
Incident report
Incident report

ETON, Ga.—A Murray County middle school teacher told a police officer she was on her way to school when he pulled her over Wednesday for driving 28 miles over the speed limit and hitting another vehicle, according to a police report.

Jennifer Lynne Zeigler, 45, of Chatsworth, Ga., was charged with driving under the influence, speeding and following too closely and released on a $2,024 bond, according to the Murray County Sheriff’s Office.

The police report states that Zeigler was “unsteady on her feet” and “stumbled while walking,” but insisted several times she had to leave so she could make it to Bagley Middle School to open the school at 6:30 a.m.

Danny Dunn, personnel director for Murray County Schools, said Zeigler was not in school Thursday, but declined to say if she has been placed on leave during the investigation.

Zeigler is scheduled to appear in Eton City Court on May 10.

A telephone number listed under her name gave a busy signal Thursday afternoon.

Zeigler, who teaches seventh-grade language arts, has been with the school system for about 26 years, Dunn said. The school system does not have a policy regarding DUI arrests, he said, but handles such incidents on a case-by-case basis.

The school is doing an investigation to determine what happened and what actions should be taken, Dunn said. He declined to provide additional information.

An Eton police officer pulled over Zeigler at 6:14 a.m. Wednesday after he clocked her 2010 Nissan Altima doing 63 mph in a 35 mph zone on U.S. Highway 411, the report says.

Before the officer pulled Zeigler over, she hit a truck stopped at a red light and nearly hit another vehicle as she turned onto Georgia Highway 286, the report says.

After she got out of her car, the officer noted on the report that “her eyes were bloodshot and that her speech was slurred.” Zeigler told the officer she had not been drinking, the report says.

When asked to do a field sobriety test, Zeigler failed to stand on one foot or walk heel to toe, the report says. She agreed to take a breathalyzer test, which showed positive for alcohol, the report says.

Zeigler then agreed to take a urine test and was taken to Murray Medical Center. When medical personnel gave her a cup for the urine test, she filled it once with water from the toilet and once with water from the sink, the report says.

She eventually provided a urine sample using a catheter, the report says.

Eton Police Chief Brent Hooper said Thursday that the sample was sent to the Georgia crime lab for testing and it likely would take more than a month to receive results.

Zeigler did not have a prior driving record in Eton, Hooper said. Murray County court records did not show any previous driving violations.

about Mariann Martin...

Mariann Martin covers healthcare in Chattanooga and the surrounding region. She joined the Times Free Press in February 2011, after covering crime and courts for the Jackson (Tenn.) Sun for two years. Mariann was born in Indiana, but grew up in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Belize. She graduated from Union University in 2005 with degrees in English and history and has master’s degrees in international relations and history from the University of Toronto. While attending Union, ...

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Why has life become so stressful for our teachers that they are loosing the respect so many deserve (by pulling stupid stunts like being under the influence)? Must be a sign of the times.

March 18, 2011 at 8:40 a.m.
BOOBOO99 said...

This is ashame!!! A Teacher getting drunk...She needs to lose her Job and sent to jail for cpl of years to let think what she did!Teacher who drink or do drugs dont need to be teaching...That sets a bad example for the children..This drunk Huzzy dont need to be teaching kids.

March 18, 2011 at 1:19 p.m.
mrsmusic said...

It is possible to have all of these symptoms but not be drunk. A diabetic issue can imitate all of these things (including a failed breathalyzer test). Don't judge until all the facts are in.

March 18, 2011 at 3:44 p.m.
dellacox said...

One would think if you call oneself HigherLevelThinker he could spell losing.

March 18, 2011 at 3:59 p.m.
fairmon said...


Once the facts are in and they validate the chages what happens?This is one area where tenure and the union should have no impact. It is not acceptable behavior for a teacher of our youth. I would suspect there were other areas of performance concerns if anyone had the ability to measure and assess performance. A college degree does not elways equal intelligence, knowldege, skill and ability. It is not fair to the majority of teachers that are dedicated, caring and skilled to retain the weak ones.

March 18, 2011 at 4:31 p.m.
dude_abides said...

Gotta side with mrsmusic here. This lady could have been in the throes of a diabetic episode and drunk, or could even have been having a stroke and drunk. Some of my drunkest friends have had issues with diabetes at times in their lives, so let's not rush to judgement until all the facts are gin(hic).

March 18, 2011 at 5:22 p.m.
read said...

"This is one area where tenure and the union should have no impact." It seems the confusion about tenure is that a teacher can't be fired. Without tenure, a school district can fire a teacher without giving her a reason. With tenure, the district must give a reason for the dismissal, and the teacher has the right to challenge it if necessary.

If she was driving under the influence, the school system will have no trouble firing her. But, I think mrsmusic has a good point. While it doesn't look good, let's at least wait until all the facts are in before we pass judgment.

March 19, 2011 at 9:06 a.m.
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