Senator’s son Arrested for DUI
Case draws attention to state vehicles
By: Chris Kramer
A DUI arrest is drawing even more attention on government spending and waste in Illinois, a state notorious for political drama and corruption.
The Chicago Tribune is reporting the son of the Illinois Senate President John Cullerton was arrested for driving under the influence. But what's really turning heads is the car he was driving when pulled over on suspicion of DUI.
Garritt Cullerton was driving a state-owned Ford Escape sport utility vehicle when he was arrested by Chicago police early on a Sunday morning.
Garritt had a blood-alcohol level of 0.188, according to police. He lives at his father’s Chicago home, which is where the Ford Escape was kept and where Garritt got access to it. According to John, his son was not authorized to use the vehicle. John also said that he would no longer keep the car at home anymore. Instead, he would keep it parked at the state office in the Thompson Center, in downtown Chicago.
Garritt Cullerton has a long history of traffic citations, according to the Chicago Tribune story. While his father would not discuss this driving history, the Tribune learned from DUI records that Garritt has been pulled over eight times since 2001. The infractions includes two stops on suspicion of DUI, following too closely, and driving 115 mph in a 65 mph zone.
In several of these cases, according to court records and interviews, Garritt was driving his father’s state-owned Senate car, which had a special number 6 on the license plate. That number refers to the legislative district that his father comes out of, on Chicago’s North Side.
Garritt was not convicted of DUI in either case, which occurred in 2004 and 2008. He did receive fines for lesser driving offenses each time. John Cullerton, in the news story, was adamant that he had never influenced a court case involving his children. He is a lawyer by trade.
“My wife and I and family are very concerned about our son,” said the elder Cullerton. “We want to make sure that we help him in any way we can.”
He also went on to say that he was proud of the anti-DUI legislation he had advanced. “They apply to everyone in the state,” he said.
He went on to say that he would investigate limiting the fleet of cars that were purchased by the General Assembly for the use of staff members and Senate leaders. This at a time when there are large budget pressures and increased scrutiny on those items purchased with taxpayer money.
“They certainly shouldn’t supplant the family car,” said Cynthia Canary, the directory of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform of the situation. She went on to say that it was fine if the fleet of cars was used for practical purposes, with detailed scheduling and transportation to government appearances and to the airport.
There are six vehicles in the current fleet, according to the Senator’s office, three of which are used by Democratic leaders and three by Republican leaders. Other leaders told the Tribune that they did not use these vehicles at home.