Portland School Board member guilty of driving to endanger

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PORTLAND — A School Board member who was arrested for allegedly driving under the influence this summer has pleaded guilty to driving to endanger.

Jenna Vendil, 31, of 38 Vespir St., entered the plea on Oct. 13 in Maine District Court.

She was arrested June 27, when she was pulled over by police on the Interstate 295 Connector in Scarborough for erratic behavior. Police would not release her blood alcohol level, only saying Vendil did not pass a breath test. She was alone in the car.

Vendil pleaded not guilty to operating under the influence July 29. The OUI charge was dropped when she pleaded guilty to driving to endanger. Vendil’s license to operate a motor vehicle was suspended for 30 days, and she was fined $575, plus court surcharges.

Vendil was also ordered to perform 72 hours of public service. She reported to a camp at Damariscotta Lake State Park in Jefferson Friday, Oct. 23. Because of that, Vendil missed a School Board retreat at the University of Southern Maine last Saturday. Her attorney, Matthew Nichols, said Vendil only had to serve 48 hours of community service, because she was credited a day for good behavior.

Nichols said Vendil contended police administered her breath test improperly. He also said she did not do well on a physical field sobriety test because she was on crutches due to a sprained ankle.

Nichols said it was unlikely she would have been convicted of operating under the influence, and “the (district attorney) and I concluded this was not an OUI case.”

Nichols said Vendil told police her erratic driving was the result of trying to plug her cell phone into the car charger.

“Driving to endanger is simply negligent operation of a motor vehicle,” Nichols said.

Vendil did not respond to a request for comment.

Vendil, who has represented District 1 since 2009, is seeking re-election this year. Her opponent, Josephine Okot, was not available for comment.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.


Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.