LACONIA — The former principal of Merrimack Valley Middle School in Penacook has pleaded guilty to drunken driving.
Kara L. Lamontagne, 50, of Sanbornton was convicted on March 5.
Superintendent of Schools Mark MacLean who heads SAU #46, confirmed that Lamontagne had tendered her resignation of her own accord on Feb. 17 and no longer works for the district.
She was employed by the Penacook school that serves students in grades 6 through 8 over the past 3½ years.
Judge Melissa C. Vetanze imposed a $620 fine and revoked Lamontagne’s license for nine months. As is standard for a conviction for DWI first offense, Lamontagne was referred to an impaired-driver care management program. Lamontagne must undergo a screening within 14 days to determine if a full substance abuse disorder evaluation is needed and whether further treatment is warranted.
If she complies and if she provides proof of completion of an approved impaired-driver education program, her driving privilege could be restored after three months.
According to the misdemeanor complaint filed by Belmont police officer Kristopher Kloetz, on Jan. 27 at 3:10 p.m. on Union Road in Belmont, Lamontagne was under the influence of alcohol when she drove a 2019 Mazda CX-5.
The complaint does not mention that Lamontagne’s black SUV went off the road and struck a tree causing the air bags to deploy. Police and the Belmont Fire Department responded to the scene. When police spoke with her about what caused the crash, they determined she was impaired and arrested her for drunken driving. She refused to submit to a breath test, was taken to the hospital as a precaution and was released on personal recognizance bail on the condition she drink no alcohol, police said.
Because of her refusal of the breath test, she was required to immediately surrender her license, and an Administrative License Suspension (ALS) hearing was scheduled before the state Department of Safety. Drivers who refuse a breath test can face an additional six months’ suspension of their license above and beyond that mandated by a criminal court.
She initially pleaded not guilty in the 4th Circuit, District Division Laconia Court, on Jan. 31 and was scheduled to stand trial on April 13. Court records indicate that on March 3, Lamontagne’s lawyer, Matt Lahey of Laconia, called to report a plea agreement had been reached with prosecutor David Estes, requesting that a sentencing hearing be set for March 4 or 5.
Vetanze agreed to the terms of the negotiated settlement which called for Lamontagne to receive the statutory minimum fine and loss of license for a DWI first offense and for police to withdraw a request for an ALS hearing.