Superior Court judge admits DUI on freeway

Prosecutors recommend a “standard” penalty for Marybeth Dingledy, who “is terribly sorry.”

EVERETT — A Snohomish County judge has pleaded guilty to drunken driving after being arrested Aug. 26 when her car spun out, struck a concrete barrier and came to rest facing oncoming traffic along I-405 near Bothell.

Marybeth Dingledy, 48, has served as a Snohomish County Superior Court judge since 2012. On Sept. 14, she pleaded guilty to driving under the influence.

The judge’s blood-alcohol level reportedly tested at 0.122 and 0.115 at the time of arrest, according to police reports obtained by The Daily Herald under public records laws. It is illegal to drive with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or greater.

No one was injured in the accident. It occurred when Dingledy swerved to avoid another vehicle that cut her off, her attorney, Anna Goykhman, said Wednesday. Dingledy had been wine tasting with a friend earlier in Woodinville. After the crash, she called 911, remained at the scene, and was placed under arrest for investigation of drunken driving.

“She has apologized to the officer and to the court, and most importantly to her community. Judge Dingledy has great respect for the law and she is terribly sorry about this incident,” Goykhman said.

King County prosecutors are recommending that Dingledy, of Mill Creek, spend a day in jail and pay a $350 fine plus court costs. The proposed sentence would suspend roughly a year behind bars, and more than $4,600 in fines that could be imposed if she reoffends.

“It was a guilty plea as charged,” said Dan Donohoe, a spokesman for the King County Prosecutor’s Office.

“It looks like it is a pretty standard recommendation for a DUI,” he added.

Sentencing is set for Nov. 1 before King County District Court Judge Arthur Chapman.

Dingledy came to the attention of a Washington State Patrol trooper headed home after working overtime that Saturday in August. At about 4:30 p.m., dispatchers told him a car had struck a barrier along northbound I-405, not far from the Snohomish-King county line.

The Toyota MR2 was facing opposite of traffic and there were skid marks on the freeway.

A witness reported the Toyota had lost control after braking hard. Dingledy reportedly told the trooper she’d been cut off by another vehicle. “Upon leaning in closer to Ms. Dingledy to hear her over the freeway traffic I detected an odor of intoxicants coming from her” and noticed that her eyes were bloodshot and watery, the trooper wrote.

Dingledy declined to perform field sobriety tests but did comply with breath tests. The trooper noticed that she was familiar with what happens to detainees being investigated for drunken driving. Dingledy told the trooper that she’d worked for years as a public defender.

When placed under arrest, the judge “stated she was sorry I had to deal with her,” the trooper wrote.

She also asked him to retrieve some items from her vehicle, including her phone, credit cards and a black bag that was behind the driver’s seat.

The trooper apparently was unaware of Dingledy’s line of work until she was being booked into jail. That’s when her black bag was opened and he saw that it contained a judge’s robe.

Dingledy was appointed to the bench in 2012 by then-Gov. Chris Gregoire. She was elected in 2016 after facing no challenger. Prior to becoming a judge, she worked in King County as a deputy prosecutor, and for 16 years as a public defender in Snohomish County. She was named attorney of the year in Snohomish County in 2010 and has earned a reputation on the bench for being fair and thorough. She has attracted attention out of the courtroom for her passion for mountaineering and backpacking.

In 2016 the State Patrol pulled over 13,039 drivers for DUI and arrested 12,950 motorists for impaired driving.

Between 2012-1014 impaired driving contributed to 57 percent of all traffic fatalities in the state.

“Due to their potential danger they pose to the public, the WSP takes all DUIs seriously,” said Kyle Moore, a spokesman for the agency. “In the interest of the safety of the community, we process all DUIs regardless of who they are.”

Reporters Diana Hefley and Noah Haglund contributed to this story.

Scott North: 425-339-3431; Twitter: @snorthnews.

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