Timothy Ryan, who for nearly 20 years was a judge in South District Court, was admonished by the state Commission on Judicial Conduct during a hearing Friday.
That means he was given a written reprimand after findings of wrongdoing and ordered not to repeat the alleged violations.
Ryan, 65, retired at the end of 2012.
He was arrested by Washington State Patrol troopers in August on suspicion of drunken driving.
King County prosecutors later declined to file charges due to conflicting witness statements, including one from Roger Fisher, another district court judge who was with Ryan shortly before his arrest. Fisher was expected to testify that Ryan wasn't impaired by alcohol.
Prosecutors wrote in court papers that they believed Ryan was drunk, but didn't think they could prove that to a jury.
Ryan's behavior during his traffic-stop and arrest was inappropriate, the commission found. The report says Ryan "gratuitously identified himself as a judge" to the investigating troopers in a way that could be interpreted as an attempt to get special treatment.
Ryan acknowledged his behavior "embarrassed (himself) and the judiciary," the commission wrote.
He also exploited his position as a judge, the report says.
Ryan declined to engage in sobriety testing when stopped by the troopers. The lack of evidence played a big role in the prosecutors' decision not to file charges.
Most drunken-driving cases are handled at the district court level. Ryan told the commission he retired because the arrest tarnished his ability to be effective as a judge.
According to state licensing records, Ryan is not allowed to drive unless his vehicle is equipped with an interlock ignition device, which would force him to take a breath test before the car could start.
Drivers must pay for those devices themselves unless they can prove financial duress.
The admonishment records are available online at the commission's website.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org
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