GREENFIELD — A Greenfield Board of Public Works and Safety member resigned Monday after he was accused of drunken driving.
Brent Lawson, 43, who has served on the city’s works board since 2012, was arrested early Thursday on charges of operating while intoxicated. He had a blood alcohol level of nearly twice the legal limit when he was stopped for speeding, according to police reports.
Mayor Chuck Fewell said he met Monday afternoon with Lawson, who agreed to step down from the board that oversees the city’s day-to-day operations.
Greenfield police officers stopped Lawson in the 200 block of East McKenzie Road around midnight Thursday. A city patrolman saw Lawson’s silver Chevy Tahoe reach speeds of at least 70 mph. The driver did not immediately pull over when police tried to stop and ran a stop sign before finally yielding to police, court records show.
Lawson had slurred speech, bloodshot eyes and struggled to stand steadily, police said. His breath smelled of alcohol, and Lawson told police he had as many as five beers while at a friend’s house that evening, court records state.
A breath test registered Lawson’s blood alcohol level at 0.18 percent; and a blood test later that night at the Greenfield Police Department registered the alcohol concentration in Lawson’s blood at .17 percent, police reports show.
The legal threshold is 0.08 percent.
Lawson failed field sobriety tests as well, court records show. He was booked into the Hancock County Jail just after 1 a.m. Thursday.
Lawson, a GOP activist, had served on the works board for more than three years. He was appointed to the seat by then-Mayor Dick Pasco in February 2012 after Pasco expanded the board from three members to five. Lawson has never held an elected office.
The board serves as the chief administrative body of the city, approving new hires, purchases and overseeing disciplinary action for city employees. This year, members earned $5,000 for their service on the board, which meets twice a month.
The mayor appoints the board of works members with approval from the city council and is responsible for deciding whether members maintain their seats on the board, according to Greenfield Clerk-Treasurer Larry Breese.
Fewell said he doesn’t expect to fill Lawson’s position until January; in the meantime, the three remaining board members and Fewell will continue conducting city business. The works board may vote on city matters provided a majority of members are present.
Fewell is going to give himself time to find the best replacement for Lawson, who has served the board well, he said.
“Brent has been a very productive member of the board, and I wish him well in whatever he pursues,” Fewell said.
Additionally, prosecutors have asked Hancock County Superior Court 2 Judge Dan Marshall to appoint a special prosecutor to handle the case going forward. The judge approved the request and set the date of Lawson’s initial hearing for Jan. 13.
Special prosecutors are appointed to avoid the appearance of impropriety in cases where the prosecutor’s office might have a personal connection to the defendant, Prosecutor Brent Eaton said.
When well-known city officials have run-ins with the law, it can put local officers in a difficult situation, Greenfield Police Chief John Jester said. Officers do their best to handle these instances like any other, he said.
“Any time you have to arrest someone you know, it’s uncomfortable,” Jester said. “But we’re trained to do our jobs.”
Lawson could not be reached for comment.