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Dorn arrested in Orting under suspicion of DUI

Tue., March 23, 2010, 9:54 a.m.

ORTING, Wash. — 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.

Information from the News Tribune.

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