Debora Juarez, top vote-getter in the Seattle City Council’s District 5 primary, pleaded guilty to driving while under the influence in 2012.

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The top finisher in the primary election for the Seattle City Council’s new District 5 seat, Debora Juarez, pleaded guilty in 2012 to driving while under the influence after crashing her car into a guardrail.

Juarez, 56, a lawyer who concentrates on providing legal and financial counsel to Native American tribes, was driving east on North Northgate Way about 3:08 a.m. on Aug. 5, 2012, when she hit the head of a guardrail where North Northgate Way and North 105th Street diverge, according to a police report.

Her blood-alcohol content measured 0.185 percent and 0.177 in a pair of samples about 4:50 a.m. the same morning. The legal limit for driving is 0.08.

The Pinehurst resident, a former public defender in Seattle Municipal Court and a former King County Superior Court judge, had 39 percent of the primary votes counted in her race as of Thursday afternoon. District 5 covers much of North Seattle.

In a statement Thursday, Juarez said: “In 2012, while driving home from a friend’s birthday party I hit a guardrail. I stayed there until a police officer arrived and cited me for driving under the influence of alcohol. I regret that I drove myself home that night.”

Seattle City Council

Interactive map: Click to see primary election results and explore the demographic makeup of Seattle’s new City Council districts.
Interactive map: Click to see primary election results and explore the demographic makeup of Seattle’s new City Council districts.

She added: “I take total responsibility for my poor decision. I pleaded guilty to the DUI charge and completed community-service work at a local youth homeless shelter. I learned a lot from this incident, and I carry this wisdom with me every day. I am sincerely sorry for having made this mistake.”

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Juarez’s vehicle had “what I believed was major damage, including a completely demolished bumper, grille and radiator, all of which were smashed in to the engine compartment,” the police officer wrote in an incident narrative included in the report.

“Further, it appeared that the engine itself had suffered massive damage … The guardrail was deeply embedded into the front of the vehicle.”

The officer then spoke to Juarez about the condition of her vehicle.

“I commented on the car’s significant damage to Juarez, who was standing beside me, specifically saying that I believed her car was ‘toast,’ ” the officer wrote.

“She seemed astonished with this, stating, ‘No it’s not!’ I told her she was being audio recorded, and she said, ‘Are you saying I can’t drive it home? … What is wrong with my engine? Why can’t I drive it?’ ” the officer continued. “Her statement to me seemed to be incongruous with the very obvious significant damage to the car.”

Juarez was slurring her words, appeared to be having significant trouble maintaining her balance while standing and smelled of alcohol, according to the officer’s narrative.

“I asked her if she had anything alcoholic to drink, to which she replied, ‘Oh yes I did. I’ll tell you right now. I had three glasses of red wine … and one glass of champagne … in the last four hours,” he wrote.

Juarez agreed to a horizontal-gaze nystagmus sobriety test, which checks for involuntary jerking or bouncing eyes. The officer wrote that she moved her head, rather than her eyes, to follow his fingertip — even after bracing her chin with her hands.

The officer arrested Juarez. She requested time on the phone with a lawyer and spoke to the attorney for about 25 minutes. She then gave the blood-alcohol samples, according to the report.

Juarez pleaded guilty on Oct. 29, 2012. She was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay a $595 fine.

She was allowed to perform 48 hours of community service in lieu of spending 24 hours in jail, the minimum time required for her offense, due to medical conditions.

Juarez completed an alcohol evaluation, an eight-hour alcohol- and drug-information school and a DUI victims panel. In a statement about the primary results, Juarez said:

“We are excited for the opportunity to keep on fighting for the people of North Seattle. I feel humbled and blessed by the support we received for our vision for District 5.”