Alcohol, sedatives show up in Franklin Co. bus driver test results

Alcohol, sedatives show up in Franklin Co. bus driver test results
Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 8:43 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 18, 2022 at 5:19 PM EDT
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FRANKLIN Co., Ala. (WAFF) - A Franklin County Schools bus driver was arrested the morning of Sept. 16 on 40 counts of reckless endangerment after investigators say she was driving under the influence while taking 40 students to school.

Franklin County Sheriff Shannon Oliver said deputies received a call about a school bus driver, driving erratically. Before deputies arrived, a concerned motorist pulled in front of the bus to force it to stop.

The concerned motorist boarded the bus thinking the driver was having a medical emergency but discovered something else was wrong.

The bus driver, identified as 58-year-old Rhonda Barksdale was given a field sobriety test when investigators arrived. A little over a month later the results of that test are in.

According to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Barksdale had .095g/100mL ethanol, 67ng/mL amphetamine, 13ng/mL clonazepam, and 470ng/mL zolpidem in her system.

In an article on the drug Clonazepam is listed as a sedative taken to treat seizures, panic disorders and anxiety. The drug is a controlled substance and if combined with any other substance, particularly alcohol, can slow breathing and possibly lead to death.

Zolpidem (Ambien) is a sedative, also called a hypnotic, that can treat insomnia. According to, someone taking the drug may feel sleepy in the morning after taking the medication, especially the extended-release tablet or if you are a woman.

It is also suggested that whoever takes the medication should wait four hours or until they are fully awake before doing anything that requires alertness.

Barksdale’s alcohol level of .095g/100mL converted to a BAC of 0.09. According to an investigator at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, it is illegal to have a BAC over 0.02 when driving a school bus.

Ten days after the arrest, the Franklin County Schools Superintendent sent a notice to members of the Franklin County Board of Education recommending that the driver be fired. On that same day, the Franklin County School Board agreed to terminate Barksdale.

According to Sheriff Oliver, the students on board were on their way to Tharptown School and none of them were injured.

Franklin County Schools Superintendent Greg Hamilton issued the following statement concerning the arrest:

“I am very thankful that no student or person was injured today. Due to the ongoing criminal investigation and privacy rights, I will not be able to make any further comments.”

On Sept. 21, Barksdale pleaded not guilty to the charges and requested a trial.