Court Drops Drunk Driving Charges Against Lucky Chicago Judge

By Mike

A Chicago judge may have escaped the consequences of his alleged drunk driving this week, as an Illinois court dismissed DUI charges against Cook County Judge James Gavin.

Gavin, who was elected to the circuit court in 1996, breathed a heavy sigh of relief last Wednesday after a DuPage County judge dropped the drunk driving charges that prosecutors leveled against him, claiming that there was not enough evidence for a conviction, according to Gavin’s DUI attorney.

According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, Gavin was initially charged in October 2011 with a misdemeanor DUI after an alert police officer pulled him over when Gavin used the shoulder of the road to pass another car.

The police report alleged that the 55-year-old veteran judge failed an eye-gaze test and smelled of alcohol, which led officers to suspect that Gavin was operating his car under the influence of alcohol.

Gavin, however, refused to submit to a blood alcohol test or a field sobriety test. Because of his intransigence, Gavin temporarily lost his license, but may have succeeded in leaving little evidence for prosecutors to prove that he was driving drunk.

And, despite the initial revocation of his license, Judge Liam Brennan, the DuPage County judge assigned to the case, ordered police to return the license to Gavin in December, claiming that the police did not have enough evidence of wrongdoing to pull Gavin over.

Oddly, Brenna told the court last week that the act of veering onto the shoulder of a road, without any further proof of intoxication or impairment, was not enough evidence to allow the case to continue.

In Brennan’s own words, “[t]he problem I have is all the other things that we typically look for to support a DUI arrest simply are not here. Mr. Gavin was polite, oriented to time, place and person. I don’t think in the context of all the other things we expect to see and don’t see that there was reasonable grounds for his arrest.”

A spokesman for the attorney’s office in DuPage County said that prosecutors were forced to drop the case due to Brennan’s ruling, and noted that Gavin still pleaded guilty to his improper shoulder passing maneuver.

For this single charge of illegal passing, Gavin was sentenced to one year of court supervision, which, given the potential financial and social consequences of a DUI conviction, Gavin is likely happy to accept.

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