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Thursday, September 6, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Hague apologizes for behavior during DUI arrest

Seattle Times staff reporter

King County Council member Jane Hague apologized Wednesday to her constituents, fellow council members and law-enforcement officers for her conduct the night she was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving.

Hague, speaking to reporters for the first time since her June 2 arrest on Highway 520 east of Lake Washington, said she has sent notes of apology to two state troopers and the King County sheriff's deputy involved in her arrest.

The arresting officers "did not deserve the rude and abusive behavior. I was very angry that night," Hague said. "I was angry at myself, I was angry at the situation, and I took it out on them. There is no excuse for that."

Hague, 61, has pleaded not guilty to driving under the influence. Breath tests administered the night of her arrest measured Hague's blood-alcohol content at 0.135 percent and 0.141 percent, above the state's 0.08 percent limit. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Oct. 1 in the Redmond branch of King County District Court.

A Bellevue Republican and a political power on the Eastside since first being elected to the Metropolitan King County Council in 1993, Hague is up for re-election Nov. 6. The Democratic nominee is Richard Pope, a Bellevue attorney who has run unsuccessfully for various public offices 10 times.

Hague, who ran unopposed in her last three campaigns, said she won't drop out of the race and plans to serve her full four-year term if re-elected.

She apologized to her council colleagues, Hague said, because, "I know what I do reflects on them as an institution. We're proud of the work we do, and we don't need any behavior that reflects less than honorably on all of us. I've apologized to them and asked for their forgiveness and support through the situation."

At times laughing and at times appearing to hold back tears, Hague met individually with reporters in the Bellevue office of her husband's real-estate-investment company. Her political consultant Brett Bader sat beside her.

"I hope that the public understands that it's not easy to sit down in front of you," she said. "You're recording history and I'm saying, 'Hey, I've got warts, I'm sorry about this.' "

Hague said she drank "a couple glasses" of wine at a charity auction in Seattle and thought she was capable of driving safely the night of her arrest. After the incident, she said, "I thought to myself, 'I need to understand what got me here. Maybe I do have a problem with alcohol.' I didn't think that I did, and I'm glad that I don't."

About a week after her arrest, Hague said, she underwent several hours of evaluation at an alcohol-treatment facility. "Fortunately, there was no problem that was uncovered."

Despite believing she doesn't have a drinking problem, Hague said she has decided that "I'll never drink any alcohol and drive again. I think it would be irresponsible of me to do anything else."

Hague's estimate of the amount of alcohol she drank June 2 is at odds with a Washington State Liquor Control Board chart showing that a 140-pound woman (slightly heavier than Hague, according to information in her court file) would, on average, have to consume four drinks in an hour to record a blood-alcohol level of 0.13 percent. But the Liquor Board notes that individual responses to alcohol consumption vary.

After the arrest, Hague did not go public. The incident was reported in the news media last month.

On Wednesday, she said she hadn't talked about it with anyone other than her husband and her lawyer for 2 ½ months. She said she had expected the matter to become public sometime after the charge was filed July 16.

She was charged under her married name, Jane Hague Springman, and prosecutors have said they didn't realize she was a County Council member.

Hague issued a written statement one day after the drunken-driving charge hit the news, saying she was "very sorry that this incident occurred" but that she could say little more for legal reasons.

She said Wednesday she was surprised many people weren't satisfied with the written statement.

Asked if she kept her public silence on her lawyer's advice, she said, "Some of that, and some of it was pretty much out of control. There were things being charged — I didn't know what I was allowed to say. After a lot of consultation, I said regardless whether this jeopardizes anything in the court, I really want to come forward and really make my apologies, particularly to the law-enforcement community. I have to do that. It's just really important to me."

Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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