Seattle cop arrested for DUI after crashing into a ditch
A Seattle police officer crashed into a ditch while driving drunk last fall. A breathalyzer test showed that Ofc. Joseph Binder had a blood alcohol content of more than twice the legal limit.
In September 2022, a King County Sheriff’s deputy arrested Binder for drunk driving. Someone had called 911 about a car left crashed in a ditch. The deputy showed up and found Binder and his wife preparing to pull the car out with a truck. Binder readily admitted to drinking and driving. The deputy noted that Binder smelled like alcohol, stumbled around and slurred his words, according to an Office of Police Accountability report released earlier this month.
In November 2022, Binder pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor charge of negligent driving in the first degree. A King County judge gave Binder a suspended sentence and ordered him to pay a $1,000 fine.
This is typical of the leniency courts have shown to Seattle police officers in the past for DUI offenses. In 2013, Ofc. Marie Gochnour pleaded to misdemeanor reckless driving after she was arrested for driving at three times the legal limit and smashing into a pole.
Under state law, the penalty for a DUI conviction with a blood alcohol content over 0.15 is at least 48 hours in jail and a one-year license suspension for first offenses.
Binder told OPA investigators and the deputy who arrested him that “work-related difficulties after the 2020 protests” led him to drink and drive.
The OPA recommended Chief of Police Adrian Díaz suspend Binder without pay for three to five days, and Díaz ultimately disciplined Biddle with a four-day unpaid suspension.
SPD hired Binder in 2016, and he made $151,000 in 2022, with $31,000 in overtime.
NOTE: The original version of this post mistakenly identified the officer due to a data error in our records. It has since been updated with the correct officer’s name.