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Seattle cop pleads down DUI despite alcohol level three times legal limit

A Seattle police officer arrested for a DUI after registering a breath-alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit will spend just two days in jail after pleading guilty to a reduced charge. (MyNorthwest file)

A Seattle police officer arrested for a DUI after registering a breath-alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit will spend just two days in jail after pleading guilty to a reduced charge. But KIRO Radio's Dori Monson says she should be charged with attempted murder.

Officer Marie Gochnour pleaded guilty to reckless driving last Friday, The Seattle Times reports. She was sentenced to two days in jail and 362 days suspended, according to the Seattle City Attorney's Office.

Gochnour and fellow officer Sean Moore were arrested after an off-duty crash Dec. 17. A 911 caller had reported their car hit a pole near First Avenue South and South Lander Street in SoDo.

A police report alleged Gochnour was driving but stopped the car and switched seats in the middle of the street with Moore, who was riding in the passenger seat.

She subsequently registered 0.234 percent and 0.247 percent in two breath-alcohol tests, about three times the legal limit of 0.08 percent. Moore blew a 0.161 and 0.149.

"This cop, she cursed at the arresting officer, acted in an aggressive manner, gave him the middle finger," Dori laments.

Both Gochnour and Moore were subsequently charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence. But a spokeswoman for the city attorney's office says it offered a reduced charge because of significant problems proving the case, most notably not being able to find the 911 caller who witnessed the crash.

"How convenient is that?" Dori says. "Two days? That's all for triple the legal limit?"

While most people don't lose their jobs or face felonies for a DUI where no one is injured, Dori argues this case is different.

"I don't just mindlessly bash cops like a lot of people. But if you have the power of deadly force in your hand and your judgement is so abysmal that you get stinking triple-the-legal-limit drunk, and then try to cover it up by switching places with your fellow officer who's double the legal the limit drunk, and then you don't even get charged or convicted of drunk driving because you're able to plea it down, it just seems that the system is in place to protect cops like Marie Gochnour and Sean Moore."

Dori is renewing his call for changes to the law that would make a DUI a felony for significantly exceeding the legal limit and putting so many others at risk.

"I'm not saying somebody barely over the limit [...] You're over .20? You should be charged with attempted murder."

Meantime, Moore is scheduled for trial on Sept. 3. An internal department investigation has been delayed pending outcome of the criminal case.

What do you think is an appropriate penalty?

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About the Author


Josh Kerns is an award winning reporter/anchor and host of KIRO Radio's Seattle Sounds (Sunday afternoons 5-6p) and a digital content producer for MyNorthwest.com.

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