Former Bainbridge school board member charged in DUI/hit-and-run case given permission to remove ignition interlock device

John Tawresey leaves Bainbridge Island Municipal Court with his lawyer Paul Cullen after a brief court appearance Tuesday. - Brian Kelly / Bainbridge Island Review
John Tawresey leaves Bainbridge Island Municipal Court with his lawyer Paul Cullen after a brief court appearance Tuesday.
— image credit: Brian Kelly / Bainbridge Island Review

The former Bainbridge Island school board member accused of driving under the influence and hit and run was given permission Tuesday to remove an ignition interlock device from the truck he was driving at the time of the crash.

John Tawresey was arrested Feb. 29 by Bainbridge police after he allegedly hit two other vehicles with his Ford F350 pickup truck near San Carlos Restaurant on Madison Avenue. Witnesses said Tawresey was noticeably intoxicated and tried to leave the scene after the accident, but bystanders blocked his exit until officers arrived.

During a brief court appearance Tuesday, Bainbridge Island Municipal Court Judge Kathryn Carruthers noted that Tawresey had undergone an alcohol assessment and had already completed an alcohol/drug information school course.

The judge also said there had been no reported problems with the ignition interlock device that had been installed in Tawresey's vehicle after his arrest.

"There is no prior criminal history," Carruthers added. "The initial installation of the interlock was on March 2; we've had no information indicating there has been any start-up failures or problems with the interlock."

"In view of the assessment results and the fact that Mr. Tawresey has taken positive steps to complete the requirements of the assessment, I will be removing the interlock at this time," she said.

Tawresey thanked the judge, but did not talk beyond that during his brief court appearance.

Paul Cullen, a Seattle-based lawyer who is representing Tawresey, said Tawresey also wanted to waive his right to a speedy trial.

His trial was reset from May 3 to June 21.

Tawresey declined to comment after the hearing, and his attorney said it was too soon for his client to talk about the case.

Tawresey, 67, resigned from the school board the week following his arrest.

In an earlier court filing, Cullen asked for a jury trial.

Cullen also told the court he wanted any tape or video recordings made of Tawresey in connection with his arrest, as well as 911 tapes, radio calls and other records and documents. The materials requested filled more than five pages of Cullen's March 5 filing.

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