Lake County Clerk candidate’s DUI history raises questions

This weekend, the Daily Herald ran an article stating that Rupam Dave, the Democratic Party Candidate for the open seat of Lake County (IL) Clerk of the Circuit Court, has had three DUI arrests (resulting in two guilty pleas, and one dismissal) from 1993 through 2005.  The last DUI occurred during a time that Dave’s driver’s license had been suspended for her second DUI arrest.

According to the article:

Dave said the three DUI arrests were the only times in the past 20 years she consumed alcohol. She said she has never undergone alcohol treatment.

“Those were the only days I have had alcohol since 1993. It isn’t part of our daily or spiritual lives,” she said. “I don’t drink and my family doesn’t consume alcohol. These instances were three distinct situations where something bad was taking place in my life.”

During the first arrest, she was going through a divorce, she said, and she was dealing with a gravely ill family member during the second and third DUI arrests.

“It is something that I regret deeply and something I have personally been working against as a lawyer,” she said. “And, if I’m elected, I would stand up and assist people to try and stop this from happening to them. I would be a spokesman against the issue of drinking and driving.”

This article raises a few questions:

  • A DUI that occurs while a person is already suspended for a prior DUI arrest can be  charged as a felony offense (Aggravated DUI).  Did this happen in Ms. Dave’s case?  If not, why?  If yes, did she plead guilty to a felony or was her case reduced to a misdemeanor as part of a plea bargain?
  • Ms. Dave became an attorney in 1995.  Was the 1993 DUI disclosed to the Illinois Supreme Court prior to her admission in regards to her character and fitness to be an attorney?  What about the 2005 arrests?  Was the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court advised?  It appears from the ARDC’s website that she has no history of discipline, but I am curious if any investigation was taken to safeguard the public by ensuring that she did not have an alcohol problem that would render her incapable of fulfilling her responsibilities as an attorney.
  • It is a standard in Illinois DUI cases that as a part of sentencing, the defendant is  required to undergo mandatory alcohol treatment and education.  Furthermore, proof of that treatment is required by the Secretary of State before he will reinstate a convicted drunk driver’s license.  So something is wrong when Ms. Dave claims she has never undergone alcohol treatment.  Was a special exception made for her on her last DUI?  Did the Secretary of State ignore his own rules to reinstate her?  Or is she not telling the truth?
  • Ms. Dave claims that the only three times that she drank since 1993 were on the three times that she was arrested.  While that is certainly possible — she did explain that there were extenuating circumstances that help explain each arrest — it is hard to square with common sense.  Government statistics indicate that the average DUI arrestee has driven drunk 80 times without being caught for each time nabbed by police.
  • Ms. Dave was not on the primary ballot.  The winner, Cynthia Pruim Haran, dropped out and the Democratic Party selected Ms. Dave.  Now, it is not unheard of for elected officials to get DUIs.  Just this week, a Winnetka trustee was arrested for DUI by Skokie police.  And as I blogged last President’s Day, George W. Bush had at least one DUI and Vice President Cheney had two.  And Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill managed to save western civilization while drinking prodigious amounts of booze. So a DUI or two is not necessarily a disqualification for holding elective office.  I have represented many people who have been able to move on with their lives after a DUI and have successful careers and families.  But it seems strange for me for a party to pick someone with such an arrest history to run for an office, without the benefit of the vetting process that primaries provide.

None of this is to say that Ms. Dave can’t be an excellent Clerk of the Circuit Court.  But I would like to see the media do a better job of getting answers to these questions before Election Day.


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