A Maine school bus driver has been placed on administrative leave and faces charges of operating under the influence of drugs after he was stopped while driving the Biddeford High School field hockey back team from a game this weekend.
According to Maine State Police Lt. Erik Baker, longtime Biddeford School Department bus driver Richard Tanguay was pulled over about 8 p.m. Saturday night heading south on I-95 with about 30 students and staff on board. Baker says a trooper saw several signs of erratic driving.
“That’s when he observed the bus going southbound, exceeding the posted speed limit more than what I would call normal. And he also saw erratic operation of changing lanes, and kind of staying between lanes, I guess, is what we should say,” he says.
Baker says the trooper pulled the bus over and asked Tanguay to perform a standard field sobriety test. After a subsequent breath test and an exam from a drug recognition expert, Baker says police determined Tanguay was under the influence of drugs, but not alcohol.
Baker declined to say what specific drugs were allegedly detected on the test.
“That’s part of the investigation. I’ll leave that for the district attorney’s office,” he says.
Police say Tanguay was also charged with driving to endanger and endangering the welfare of a child.
In a message to parents, Superintendent Jeremy Ray said the district is working with police and investigating the incident, and that, “student safety is our first priority.”
According to Maine law, school bus drivers are required to pass a yearly physical exam and are required to disclose any medications they’re using. Ray says that the Biddeford School Department additionally requires randomized drug testing of transportation staff.
“I think all school departments work really hard to make sure everybody’s safe at all times. Whether that’s through regulations or polices that are put into in place,” he says. “And I think in this situation, we just need to learn the facts, learn the details at the end of this. And make decisions from that, going forward. And not make decisions without all the facts being in play.”
Ray says that Tanguay has been placed on administrative leave during the investigation. Police say Tanguay’s first court appearance is scheduled for January.