Drunk deputy arrested for 'physical control'

An Island County Sheriff's deputy was arrested in Greenbank Saturday morning for "physical control" of a sheriff's patrol car while under the influence of alcohol.

The charge carries the same penalties as driving while under the influence, according to Sheriff Mike Hawley.

As Hawley described the incident, Deputy Jane Arnold, 40, did not show up for duty at 7 a.m. Saturday. Soon thereafter, she called the sheriff's office and said she had failed to wake up on time, and that she was leaving Oak Harbor to go home and change clothes before reporting for duty. She lives in Greenbank.

Her supervisor that morning, Sgt. Rick Norrie, arranged to meet with Arnold at Houston Road. When Norrie arrived at the intersection, Arnold was waiting in her patrol car with the engine running.

Hawley said Norrie, who is specially trained in drug and alcohol detection and enforcement, noticed the smell of alcohol on Arnold. On the spot, he asked her to blow into a portable Breathalyzer.

According to Hawley, the device recorded an alcohol level of 1.1, well above the legal limit of .08.

Norrie allowed Arnold to drive home, a move he later realized was wrong, according to Hawley.

"He did something stupid -- he let her drive home," the sheriff said. "But to his credit he realized that immediately."

Norrie called Hawley and told him what had happened, and Hawley told him to go to Arnold's home and arrest her, which he did. Arnold was transported to the Langley police station, which has a legal breathalyzer. The results from that machine can be used in court. This test was given at 11:33 a.m., some three hours after the first test, and showed a blood alcohol level of .082, still over the legal limit, Hawley said.

The charge of physical control was made because Arnold was not driving the vehicle when she was first tested, Hawley said.

"It's being in physical control of a vehicle while under the influence," he explained. "She had her engine running. It's the same penalties (as DUI)."

Arnold, who has been with the department for three years, was relieved of duty pending the investigation, Hawley said.

Other deputies in the past have been convicted of DUI and kept their jobs, Hawley said, describing Arnold's miscue as "not necessarily a firing offense."

But, he said this is the first time he can remember when a deputy was in a marked patrol car at the time of an alleged violation.

"I can't recall that happening before," he said.

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