News

State schools chief charged with DUI

State schools chief Randy Dorn was charged Wednesday with one count of driving under the influence after being stopped for speeding in Orting early Sunday.

According to court documents, Dorn smelled of alcohol and failed field sobriety tests when an officer pulled him over about 1:30 a.m.

The News Tribune filed a public records request Wednesday and received charging documents providing some details from the arrest of the first-term superintendent of public instruction.

Meanwhile, the newspaper is working to obtain the full police report from Dorn’s traffic stop, which Orting officials have refused to release until Friday. They’re taking the extra time to notify Dorn and give his attorney a chance to block release of the report.

In the court documents released Wednesday, an Orting officer wrote that he stopped Dorn because he was driving more than 45 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone and a tail light was out on his 2006 Toyota Prius.

The officer smelled alcohol when he pulled Dorn over, he wrote, noting also that Dorn’s “eyes were watery, droopy, bloodshot and his face was flushed.”

Dorn, 56, failed a “walk and turn” field sobriety test and showed signs of impairment when the officer checked his pupils.

When the officer asked how much he had to drink, Dorn said he “had some,” according to the officer’s statement.

During the stop, Dorn also submitted to a preliminary breath test, which found his blood alcohol content to be .097. The legal limit for drivers is .08.

The Orting officer then arrested Dorn and brought him to the Orting Police Department, where he administered an official breath test at about 3 a.m. At that point, Dorn’s blood alcohol content tested at .11.

Dorn said in a statement Tuesday that he was stopped while driving home from a community event where he drank beer with dinner. He said he attended the event with members of his family.

Court documents don’t mention anyone else being in the car at the time of the traffic stop, nor do they give more information about where Dorn was driving from.

The longtime educator said Tuesday that he wouldn’t say anything more about the incident at that time.

Chris Barron, a spokesman for Dorn’s office, said Wednesday that the superintendent doesn’t have any further comment now that a formal charge has been filed.

“The statement from Tuesday holds at this point,” Barron said. “It’s a personal legal matter.”

The Eatonville resident was observed speeding at about the 1000 block of Washington Avenue North, according to citation records. An officer pulled him over about seven blocks away in front of Orting High School, Police Chief Bill Drake said.

Dorn received a ticket for driving at least 10 miles over the speed limit, as well as a citation for driving under the influence.

Dorn was elected in 2008 to a four-year term leading Washington’s K-12 school system, unseating three-term incumbent Terry Bergeson.

As an independently elected executive, Dorn answers to the voters, not to any other state official.

The Washington State Executive Ethics Board monitors state executives for ethics violations such as financial conflicts of interest, but it doesn’t concern itself with matters such as DUI charges, said Melanie deLeon, the board’s executive director.

“Traffic and criminal issues don’t fall under our jurisdiction,” deLeon said Tuesday.

Dorn’s arraignment date on the drunken driving charge was still undecided as of Wednesday, officials said.

DUI is a gross misdemeanor that carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

Melissa Santos: 253-552-7058

melissa.santos@thenewstribune.com

  Comments