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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Randy Dorn

Dorn gets device that led to Thoma’s lawsuit

State schools Superintendent Randy Dorn received an automatic 90-day driver’s license suspension when he pleaded guilty last month to drunken driving.

But that doesn’t mean he can’t drive.

The Associated Press reports that Dorn (left) is driving with an ignition interlock device - the same device Spokane police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick wouldn’t allow now former Sgt. Brad Thoma to use in his patrol car after a DUI arrest last fall. Thoma is suing the city of Spokane, alleging wrongful termination.

The 2008 Washington Legislature adjusted drunken driving laws beginning in January 2009 to allow all offenders to regain their driving privileges if they install ignition interlock devices on their vehicles, instead of simply suspending their driving privileges for a period of time. The devices test a driver’s blood-alcohol level and prevent the vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected.

Even first-time offenders who chose an intensive, five-year deferred prosecution program, like Thoma, must use one.The option also is available for DUI suspects facing license suspensions because they refused blood or breath tests, like Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputy Darin Schaum.

It’s unclear what that could mean for a Sheriff’s Office policy that calls for employees to be fired only after their second drunken driving offense. Kirkpatrick wouldn’t allow Thoma, a first-time offender, to use one because she doesn’t feel its appropriate for someone in law enforcement to drive with the device on their patrol car.

Past coverage Feb. 3: Ignition device law a test for agencies

State schools chief suspected of DUI

ORTING, Wash. (AP) — The state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction was arrested over the weekend for suspicion of driving under the influence, his office confirmed Tuesday.

Randy Dorn was stopped by police around 1:30 a.m. Sunday near Orting High School in rural Pierce County. The Tacoma News Tribune was first Tuesday in reporting on the arrest. Dorn said in a statement Tuesday that he and his family were attending a community event Saturday night at which he drank beer with dinner. He was stopped by police on the way home.

“The public has a right to information regarding the conduct of elected officials. 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’s statement said. “I look forward to the day when I will be able to discuss the details of this incident.”

OSPI spokesman Nathan Olson said he could not comment further on the matter.

Police cited Dorn for driving under the influence and he also received a ticket for driving 10 miles over the speed limit, Orting Police Chief Bill Drake said. He wasn’t booked into Pierce County Jail, according to booking records. No charges had been filed as of Tuesday afternoon, but an April 6 court date has been set for an arraignment in Orting Municipal Court.

A breathalyzer test found Dorn’s blood-alcohol content was 0.11 Sunday morning, which is 0.03 above the legal limit in Washington, according to a State Patrol report released to the News Tribune.

A police officer administered the test twice at about 3 a.m., roughly an hour and a half after the officer pulled Dorn over.

Drake said he wouldn’t release any additional information until the city prosecutor decided whether to press charges. Orting Prosecuting Attorney Aaron Walls said that a decision about charges would be made after police have sent the arrest documents to his office.

Although the arrest occurred over the weekend, Dorn’s office remained silent until the newspaper sought comment, perhaps in the hope that the incident might go unnoticed because it happened in such a remote area.

Only a rare public figure comes out ahead of the news to announce such a lapse, said David Olson, UW political science professor emeritus.

“The uniformity with which elected officials do not do that is quite impressive,” he said.

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

He was executive of the Public School Employees of Washington union from 1999 until taking his new job. Earlier in his career, he served seven years in the state House, and worked as a teacher and principal in Eatonville and other districts.

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