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After pleading guilty to  driving under the influence of alcohol, Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn leaves  Orting Municipal Court with his wife Kaye, left, on Friday.  (Associated Press)
After pleading guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol, Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn leaves Orting Municipal Court with his wife Kaye, left, on Friday. (Associated Press)

State superintendent enters guilty plea

Drunken driving costs him day in jail, fine, classes

SEATTLE – Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn pleaded guilty Friday to one count of drunken driving and will serve one day in jail.

Dorn, 56, entered his plea in Orting Municipal Court, where Judge John Curry sentenced him to 365 days in jail, but suspended all but one day of the sentence. He was also fined $866 plus costs and assessments.

Dorn is expected to report to jail on Monday. He also has surrendered his driver’s license for 90 days and will spend two consecutive Saturdays in drug and alcohol awareness classes, according to his attorney, Tom Ellington of Milton, Wash.

Dorn was arrested early on March 21 about 15 miles from his Eatonville home while driving home from a crab feed and dance in Bonney Lake in rural Pierce County, where he said he drank some beer.

The Washington State Patrol said a breath test found Dorn’s blood-alcohol content was 0.11 percent. The legal limit for driving is 0.08.

In a written statement, Dorn again apologized and said he decided to plead guilty to put the incident behind him and accept the consequences.

“First, I want to apologize for my actions and the distraction they have caused. I drank alcohol and got behind the wheel of a car. That is a mistake, no matter how much you drink. I apologize to my family, the students and the educators across our state,” he said.

As part of the legal proceeding, Dorn took an alcohol assessment, which he said confirmed what he already knew: alcohol is not a problem in his life.

Ellington said he told Dorn he thought there was a 90 percent chance he would get his charge reduced to negligent driving if he fought it.

“But he overruled my advice and chose to take the high road and take full responsibility for his conduct,” Ellington said.

Dorn said alcohol does not affect his ability to serve as head of Washington’s education department.

“I will continue to work hard to move my agenda forward, especially as it relates to achieving real reform of education funding,” Dorn said, adding that he wants to work to earn back the public’s trust.

“For me, as a career educator, this is a teachable moment,” he said.

Dorn said he would seek out opportunities to help young people learn from his mistake.


 

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