Highway 97. (file photo)

Only a matter of time until ‘Okanagan Bob’ is identified, police say

The notorious Hwy. 97 driver’s identify can’t be released until he commits a criminal offence

People may be wondering who the notorious Highway 97 driver known as Okanagan Bob is, but his name won’t be released by the RCMP because he hasn’t been charged with a criminal offence.

Traffic Services media relations officer Cpl. Mike Halskov said they can’t release his name by law, but it’s likely only a matter of time before a criminal offence occurs.

”It isn’t that we are refusing to publish the person’s name, it is that we are prohibited in law from doing so because the person has not been charged with a criminal offence,” Cpl. Halskov said in an email.

“In my experience, I suggest it is only a matter of time before that occurs, but for that I ask for your patience; we will undoubtedly come across this person again, at which time the evidence will dictate whether we recommend criminal charges that may include dangerous driving.”

Okanagan Bob was slapped with an eight-month licence suspension on Sept. 17 after clocking in 45 kilometres over the speed limit on his commute between Lake Country and Vernon.

READ MORE: RCMP put brakes on notorious Okanagan driver

“Up until now, this person has only hurt himself,” Cpl. Halskov said. “Mostly in the pocketbook.”

RCMP members investigated Okanagan Bob’s daily commute over three days and he was stopped on Aug. 29, 2019, and issued several tickets.

He was hit with two counts of excessive speeding, driving without due care and driving without consideration, Central Okanagan Traffic Services Sgt. Bryce Petersen said. Cpl. Halskov said the incident landed the driver with 18 driver penalty points on this event alone.

“Under the new ICBC insurance regime, I would think his premiums will rise considerably,” Cpl. Halskov said. “I suggest it will be very costly for him when it comes time to re-apply for his driver’s licence once his prohibition expires.”

Okanagan Bob first came to public and police attention three years ago after dash-cam videos were posted to YouTube. In December 2018, more complaints came forward about Okanagan Bob’s erratic and aggressive driving.

Police first put the brakes on Okanagan Bob on Dec. 6, 2018. He was issued a ticket, his vehicle was impounded for seven days and he was issued a Level 1 vehicle inspection notice that removed his Dodge pickup truck from the road for a while.

“If he continues to drive as he has demonstrated in the past, it is only a matter of time before innocents get injured or killed,” Cpl. Halskov said. “Obviously we don’t want that to happen.”

In the meantime, Cpl. Halskov wants to remind motorists driving is a privilege in British Columbia.

“The simplest way to avoid getting tickets, having your vehicle impounded and receiving a driving prohibition is to drive defensively, obey speed limits, wear seat belts, drive sober and drive distraction-free.”

READ MORE: Vernon dancing stars raise $178,000 for hospice society

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@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

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