Telegraph, The (Nashua, NH)

December 1, 2004
Section: Amherst
Driving instructor pleads not guilty to DWI

MICHAEL BRINDLEY
Telegraph Staff

MERRIMACK – A Nashua School District driving instructor charged with driving under the influence on his way to a lesson pleaded not guilty at an arraignment this morning in Merrimack District Court. Arthur Desmeules, 66, of Manchester, pleaded not guilty to four charges, including conduct after an accident and two separate charges of drug possession.

According to the complaints filed in court, the drug charges are based on the discovery of Lexapro, an anti-anxiety medication, without a container. Whether it was discovered in the vehicle or on Desmeules is unclear. Desmeules is also facing one charge of driving under the influence. This marks the second time in the past two years he has been charged with the crime. He was convicted in June 2003 in a Manchester court, according to the complaints.

Desmeules was arrested last week after he crashed a city-owned Ford Taurus near the Bedford tolls and left the scene, police said. Police found Desmeules changing two flat tires just south of Exit 12 on the southbound side of the F.E. Everett Turnpike. According to the arresting officer, State Trooper Kieran Fagan, Desmeules failed a field sobriety test. Desmeules’ breath smelled of alcohol and there were fresh marks on the vehicle, Fagan said.

Desmeules was transported to the Merrimack Police Department, where he was booked and released on personal recognizance. Judge Patricia DiMeo made no change to Desmeules’ bail and he left the court after the proceedings. He made his way out of court quickly, accompanied by his wife, Irene.

Bernstein spoke on his client’s behalf, but only said he could not yet comment on what defense his client planned to use. When asked whether Desmeules was remorseful for his alleged actions, Bernstein said, “Common sense would suggest many things.”

A trial was scheduled for Dec. 22 at 1 p.m. in Merrimack District Court.

Assistant School Superintendent John Nelson said Desmeules, who was suspended without pay last week, was responsible for teaching 12 students. On Tuesday, they all met with another driving instructor to continue their instruction. Nelson said the district’s other three instructors would help make up for Desmeules’ absence until the district’s investigation into the matter is complete.

“The investigation is still in process,” Nelson said.

Asked whether Desmeules would retain his position as a driving instructor, Nelson that has not yet been decided. All four charges that Desmeules faces are class A misdemeanors.

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