State schools chief Randy Dorn was arrested and cited for driving under the influence Sunday in Orting, with a breath test determining that his blood-alcohol level was 0.03 percent above the legal limit.
The traffic stop occurred about 1:30 a.m. Sunday on the same block as Orting High School.
Dorn said in a statement Tuesday that he and his family attended a community event Saturday night where he drank beer with dinner. Local police stopped him on his way back to his home in Eatonville, he said.
He declined to discuss further details.
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“The public has a right to information regarding the conduct of elected officials,” the first-term superintendent of public instruction said Tuesday in a statement.
“However, I hope people will understand and respect that this is a personal legal matter that at this time I am not at liberty to discuss,” Dorn said.
According to Washington State Patrol data obtained by The News Tribune, a breathalyzer test found that Dorn’s blood-alcohol content was 0.11 percent. The legal limit for drivers in Washington is 0.08 percent.
An Orting police officer administered the breath test twice around 3 a.m., roughly an hour and a half after the officer pulled Dorn over in the 300 block of Washington Avenue North.
Dorn, 56, was cited for driving under the influence and also received a ticket for driving 10 miles over the speed limit. Though police confirmed Dorn was arrested, jail records show he wasn’t booked into the Pierce County Jail. Orting Police Chief Bill Drake said DUI suspects are often released after their arrests if they have no other pending charges.
Drake said Tuesday that he couldn’t release more information about Dorn’s arrest because he was still finishing the investigation.
After the investigation is complete, the city prosecutor may decide to pursue a criminal DUI charge or amend the citation to a lesser offense, Drake said. At that point, the Police Department may be able to say more about the circumstances of Dorn’s arrest, he said.
Dorn was elected in 2008 to a four-year term leading Washington’s K-12 school system, unseating three-term incumbent Terry Bergeson.
He was executive director of the Public School Employees of Washington union from 1999 until taking the new office.
Earlier in his career, he served seven years in the state House and also worked as a teacher and principal in Eatonville and other districts.
Dorn based much of his election campaign two years ago on getting rid of the controversial Washington Assessment of Student Learning, saying it doesn’t provide meaningful feedback and is too time-consuming.
Dorn has a court appearance scheduled for April 6 in Orting Municipal Court.