The veteran Biddeford school bus driver who was charged with operating under the influence Sunday night has no recent record of driving infractions, but was involved in a minor collision while driving a Biddeford school bus in 2011, state records show.

Richard Tanguay

Richard E. Tanguay, 68, was driving the Biddeford High School field hockey team home from a championship match Saturday night when he was pulled over on the Maine Turnpike in Scarborough for allegedly speeding and driving erratically.

He faces counts of operating under the influence of drugs, driving to endanger and endangering the welfare of a child, state police said. He was released on $500 bail from the Cumberland County Jail following his arrest. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Jan. 9 at Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court in Portland.

Police said alcohol was not believed to be involved during the stop Saturday night. Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, declined to specify what substance was believed to have been involved, and whether it was a prescription medication or an illegal substance.

Tanguay has no criminal history in Maine, according to the state Bureau of Identification, and his driving history shows that his last violation was a seat belt ticket issued in 2015, according to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Before that, Tanguay’s most recent serious moving violations were in 2008, for failing to stop at a stop sign, and in 2005 for speeding, when he was cited for driving 39 mph in a 25 mph zone. His driving record stretches to 1969, and Tanguay has no prior OUIs, according to the BMV and state criminal records.

No one answered the door at Tanguay’s Biddeford home on Monday afternoon, and he did not respond to a phone message seeking an interview.

Biddeford School Department Superintendent Jeremy Ray said Tanguay, a driver for the district for 30 years, is on administrative leave while the district investigates what happened. Ultimately, it will be up to Ray to decide whether Tanguay keeps his job, but Ray said the district is still seeking the facts about what happened before it renders any decisions.

“We will do an investigation internally,” Ray said Monday. “I want to make sure the employee gets complete due process on our side.”

Ray said that no one on the bus Tanguay was driving reported noticing anything out of the ordinary during the ride back from Oakland.

According to Ray, all school bus drivers must complete an annual Maine Department of Transportation physical exam and medications screening test to qualify for a commercial driver’s license. Biddeford’s bus drivers underwent the physical exam in August, but Ray said the school department does not receive any details due to health privacy laws. All the school department gets is whether the driver passed or failed the exam.

During their annual commercial driver’s license exam, drivers are required to disclose prescription medications. Doctors must determine if the drugs a driver has been prescribed will interfere with his or her ability to operate a bus, Ray said.

Tanguay was arrested after a Maine State Police trooper stopped the bus around 8 p.m. in Scarborough as it was returning from Oakland carrying about 30 field hockey players and coaches from a championship match. Police said Tanguay was speeding through a construction zone, failed to signal lane changes and failed to stay in his lane, according to a statement by state police. Trooper Patrick Hall administered a field sobriety test and detected signs of impairment. Tanguay was transported to the Cumberland County Jail, where he underwent a breath test that measures the presence of alcohol.

Tanguay also was administered a battery of tests by Freeport police officers who are trained as drug recognition experts.

The most recent reported accident involving Tanguay occurred June 17, 2011, when he was driving a Biddeford school bus. In that case, Tanguay made a left turn around a sharp corner, causing the rear of the bus to swing around, striking a parked car near Pine Street and Maple Street in Biddeford at about 7:20 a.m.

The police officer noted in the 2011 crash report that the left turn was improper, but Tanguay was not cited for any traffic infraction. There were nine children and one other adult on the bus at the time, and no one was injured, the report said.

 

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