Plymouth South High School Principal James R. Hanna had a blood-alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit when he was arrested for alleged drunk driving Saturday and later fell onto a fingerprint machine at booking, court records show.
Hanna, 47, was arraigned Monday in Plymouth District Court. A not-guilty plea was entered on his behalf to charges of OUI liquor, and negligent operation and injury from mobile phone use, according to court records. He was released on his own recognizance.
His lawyer declined to comment when reached by phone, and an e-mail message to Hanna wasn’t immediately returned.
A police report filed in court said Hanna had picked up an order at a 99 Restaurant around 6 p.m. Saturday and was driving a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee when he allegedly rear-ended another driver, identified as Steven Lyons, in the area of 164 South St. in Plymouth.
Lyons wasn’t hurt, but his female passenger, Elizabeth Grischenko, was taken to an area hospital after complaining of neck and back pain, the report said. She was ultimately diagnosed with whiplash.
Lyons told responding officers, “I think he is drunk,” referring to Hanna, the report said. Hanna later told cops he looked down at his phone to view a text message when he struck Lyons’s 2008 Kia Sedan, which showed “heavy rear end damage” after the crash, the report said.
Hanna told police he had consumed three beers between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. before heading to pick up dinner at the 99, according to the report. He said he didn’t have any booze at the restaurant.
Hanna, who told police he had a master’s in education when asked about his level of schooling, failed field sobriety tests, including saying the alphabet, the report said. He held on to his Jeep for support as he recited the letters A to F before struggling and then ultimately giving up at O, according to the filing.
Plymouth Police Sergeant Christopher Butler processed Hanna at booking and also noticed alleged signs of impairment.
“I observed that Mr. Hanna was swaying slightly and that his eyes were bloodshot and glassy,” Butler said in a second police report. “Most prevalent however was the overpowering odor of an alcoholic beverage.”
Hanna’s tumble came while he was being fingerprinted.
“Mr. Hanna swayed slightly as we stood at the machine,” Butler wrote. “Upon completing the right hand, I informed him I would be doing his left hand now. Mr. Hanna attempted to turn but lost his balance and fell into the AFIS machine. I caught his left arm and he grabbed the machine with his right. Mr. Hanna seemed unfazed by the incident.”
He also blew a .237 followed by a .231, according to court papers. The legal limit is .08.
Reached by e-mail Monday, Superintendent Gary E. Maestas of the Plymouth Public Schools declined to say whether Hanna was placed on leave as a result of his arrest.
“The Plymouth Schools are aware of a DUI arrest of an employee within one of our schools,” Maestas said in a written statement. “This is a personnel matter and will be addressed with the individual. The Plymouth Public Schools will proceed in the best interest of the students of the particular school within the community of Plymouth. A plan is being developed to address the short and long-term needs of the building and will be conveyed to the school community when available.”
Hanna’s next court hearing is slated for Mar. 3.