An on-duty King County sheriff’s deputy arrested in Newcastle on New Year’s Eve after he was found asleep in his patrol car had prescription drugs in his system, according to the Bellevue Police Department.

The case against the deputy, who was arrested on investigation of physical control of a motor vehicle, the legal equivalent of DUI when no driving is observed, has been forwarded to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, police said in a statement Wednesday.

Prosecutors will determine what, if any, charges will be filed against the deputy, who was 46 at the time of his arrest. His name has not been released.

Police said he was taken into custody around 9:30 p.m. after a citizen called 911 to report that the deputy was hunched over the steering wheel of his marked vehicle.

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

The three deputies who arrived to rouse their colleague noticed signs of impairment, police said.

Alcohol wasn’t suspected, but a Bellevue police drug-recognition expert who was called to the scene believed the deputy was “under the influence of some sort of drug, possibly a narcotic,” a spokeswoman for the King County Sheriff’s Office, Sgt. Cindi West, said after the arrest.

Blood drawn from the deputy was submitted to the Washington State Patrol Toxicology Lab, which ran a standard screen on the sample and did not detect drugs, according to the Bellevue Police Department, which handled the criminal investigation into the deputy.

Because that finding was at odds with what the department’s drug-recognition expert observed and the deputy’s alleged admission he had taken prescription drugs during his shift, Bellevue police submitted a blood sample from the deputy to a lab in Pennsylvania that conducts broader substance screenings.

Investigators learned on March 31 that a new lab analysis had returned with positive result for the presence of multiple prescription drugs, all of which have impairing qualities and carry warnings they are not to be used while operating machinery or vehicles, Bellevue police said.

The 15-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office has been placed on light-duty status, meaning he has no police power but is performing clerical duties, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this story.

Christine Clarridge can be reached at or 206-464-8983.