Hernando schools chief advises firing bus driver who failed alcohol breath test
BROOKSVILLE — On the evening of Sept. 17, Barbara L. Price sat down for a light dinner and a couple of 16-ounce beers. After her meal, Price said she had three or four cocktails, the last one around 11 p.m.
This, according to her account of the evening in School District documents, is why her blood-alcohol level registered above the legal limit for commercial drivers just before 10 a.m. the next day — after she drove her morning school bus route.
Interim school superintendent Sonya Jackson has recommended that the 48-year-old Spring Hill resident be fired. The School Board will consider the recommendation at a special meeting Tuesday.
Under district policy, driving with an unlawful blood alcohol level earns a mandatory recommendation of termination. Bus drivers are forbidden from consuming alcohol within 12 hours of getting behind the wheel.
Price was assigned to Route 155, which services Spring Hill Elementary and Central High schools.
She started her pre-trip preparations Sept. 18 at 5:55 a.m., according to an investigation report. Price would later admit that she violated the so-called 12-hour rule, the report noted.
Price was selected for a random breath test after she returned to the bus depot. The first test at 9.55 a.m. showed a blood alcohol concentration of .057 percent. A second test a few minutes later showed .053 and a third, at 10:17, showed .043.
Two more tests on a second breath testing machine completed within the next 45 minutes showed levels of .029 and .028.
The legal blood alcohol content limit in Florida for commercial drivers is .04 percent. The level for other drivers is .08.
Price was suspended with pay Sept. 22. pending an investigation. Jackson sent a letter Sept. 28 notifying Price that she would be recommending termination.
Price did not return a call seeking comment Thursday.
--Tony Marrero, Times staff writer, with Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributing