A Seattle police officer has been convicted of drunken driving in Grays Harbor County, where a jury deliberated just 36 minutes before convicting him even after he successfully suppressed evidence showing his blood-alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit.

Share story

A Seattle police officer has been convicted of drunken driving in Grays Harbor County, where a jury deliberated just 36 minutes before convicting him even after he successfully suppressed evidence showing his blood-alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit.

During Tuesday’s trial, the six-member jury heard that Officer Zsolt Dornay, a 16-year veteran, handed over his Seattle Police Department identification card to the arresting officer and asked, “Are you sure you want to do this?” after he was pulled over by a state trooper in Ocean Shores last summer.

Dornay — who made headlines in 2006 after he shot a local attorney during an off-duty altercation near Pike Place Market — “appeared to be asking for a courtesy” when he flashed his police identification, said Edgar Korzeniowski, a Grays Harbor deputy prosecutor.

“We try to treat everybody the same. Whenever you’re asking for courtesy or acting as if you’re above the law, we take those situations very seriously,” he said.

This week, save 90% on digital access.

Dornay was convicted after a one-day trial in Grays Harbor County District Court in Montesano.

Dornay was represented by his sister, attorney Margita Dornay, 42, who was reinstated to the Washington State Bar in June after her license was suspended for three years for lying under oath.

Their younger brother, Dustin Dornay, 34, was also arrested for DUI and is scheduled for trial Sept. 22.

Zsolt Dornay, 41, is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 1.

Phone messages left for Zsolt and Margita Dornay were not immediately returned Thursday.

At a minimum, Zsolt Dornay is likely to be sentenced to one day in jail or 15 days on electronic-home monitoring, plus an $866 court fine, according to the prosecutor’s office.

The Seattle Police Department launched an internal investigation last year, after Dornay’s July 26, 2009, arrest. Dornay, a detective assigned to the Criminal Investigations Bureau, was placed on administrative reassignment.

In response to a Seattle Times request for comment, Seattle police issued a statement Thursday acknowledging that, “One of our officers was convicted in Grays Harbor County for the crime of Driving Under the Influence.”

Because an investigation launched by the department’s Office of Professional Accountability “is still active and ongoing, it is our practice to not discuss the matter further until that investigation is complete,” the statement says.

The Dornay brothers were riding motorcycles when they were stopped by a state trooper, who saw them pull out from the Porthole Pub in Ocean Shores and speed off at 49 mph in a 25 mph zone, according to court records.

In his report, the trooper wrote that Zsolt Dornay smelled of intoxicants, had bloodshot eyes and fumbled as he pulled his driver’s license from his wallet. He also handed over his police ID, said he drank three beers in three hours, and questioned whether the trooper really wanted to arrest him, according to the records.

Dornay also gave the trooper the address of the Seattle Police Department’s West Precinct instead of his home address, the records show.

While at the Ocean Shores police department, the brothers asked to talk to an attorney before submitting to a breath test, according to court records. Both men said they would be represented by their brother-in-law, attorney Robert Noe, and the trooper said they could have 15 minutes to talk to him by cellphone.

However, according to court records, the trooper returned 17 minutes later to hear Dustin Dornay “talking about the weather.” He cut the call short, even though Zsolt Dornay said he hadn’t yet had a chance to consult with Noe, who is Margita Dornay’s husband, according to King County marriage records.

As a result of being denied access to counsel, Grays Harbor County District Judge Stephen Brown suppressed Dornay’s breath-test results, which showed his blood-alcohol level at 0.15 and 0.17 percent. The legal limit for intoxication in Washington is 0.08 percent.

Dustin Dornay submitted to one breath test before refusing to continue, according to the trooper’s report. His initial reading was 0.23 percent, the report says.

In June 2006, Zsolt Dornay was seriously injured in a late-night altercation in Seattle’s Post Alley that ended when he shot Seattle attorney James Walker.

Dornay was revving his motorcycle and slowly driving through Post Alley when he was confronted by an intoxicated woman, an employee of Walker’s. The woman knocked over Dornay’s motorcycle and he responded by slamming her into a garage door. A group of men then attacked Dornay, who was off-duty, and he pulled his off-duty weapon and fired into the crowd, wounding Walker.

King County prosecutors decided not to file criminal charges against anyone involved in the incident.

In June 2007, the Washington State Supreme Court found that Margita Dornay had lied when she testified on behalf of a King County sheriff’s deputy she was having an affair with during his 2002 divorce proceedings. Her law license, suspended for three years, was reinstated June 22.

Seattle Times researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report, which also includes information from Times archives.

Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or sgreen@seattletimes.com

Custom-curated news highlights, delivered weekday mornings.