Hypocritical CBS 2 Reporter Tries to Keep Driving Privileges After DUI

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Dave Savini. Photo: Naperville Police Department

If you’re a TV reporter who did an exposé on drunk driving among first responders, and then get busted for a DUI yourself, it takes a lot of brass to turn around and try to keep your driving privileges, but that’s exactly what CBS 2’s Dave Savini is doing.

Back in 2003, the investigative journalist ran the series “Code Blue, Code Red,” which found that 250 local cops, firefighters and paramedics had committed drunk driving offenses, on WMAQ-TV. Savini won the prestigious Edward R. Murrow award for his efforts.

Things didn’t go so well for him on Saturday, January 4, when he stopped at a Naperville Taco Bell at 1:30 a.m. with two teenagers, apparently his sons, the Tribune reported yesterday. During the snack run, Savini, 47, allegedly got in a dispute in with another driver after a fender-bender in the parking lot, and shoved the man when he tried to photograph the license plate of the reporter’s SUV.

Savini then fled the scene with the teens in his car. Police said they arrested him him three-and-a-half miles from the restaurant. He reportedly failed field sobriety tests, smelled of alcohol, and had glassy, bloodshot eyes.

According to DuPage County court records, his blood-alcohol level was .134, far beyond the .08 percent legal BAC. He was charged with a misdemeanor DUI, battery, leaving the scene of an accident, and child endangerment. He was released on $3,000 bail.

Although police records suggest that Savini was guilty of the very crime he exposed among first responders, and that he was particularly reckless by putting his own sons’ lives at risk, he now has the chutzpah to try to keep his license. Yesterday his lawyer, Terry Ekl, filed a petition to rescind the Illinois statutory summary suspension that would automatically kick in 45 days after the arrest, the Trib reported.

The petition claims the police did not have probable cause to charge Savini with the DUI, and that they did not follow proper procedures when booking him and testing his BAC. Given the severity of the accusations against Savini, it would be extremely troubling if he is allowed to keep driving, potentially endangering more people. It would also be a shame if this hypocritical and irresponsible man ultimately gets off on a technicality.

  • oooBooo

    Interesting form of hypocrisy being claimed. The claim being that Savini is a hypocrite because a decade plus after an investigation that showed those in the employ of government were not subject to the same laws in the same ways as us mundanes he has now run afoul of some of those laws and is mounting a legal defense.

    If Savini were taking advantage of any privileges he has because of his job certainly the author would have mentioned them. Instead it appears he has hired a traffic attorney, a profession for which laws have been created/modified to create business for in this state, who is proceeding with the case as he would for any other client. Furthermore the charges against Savini have nothing to do with any of the requirements of his job although if CBS 2 fired him over them, he probably would not have the recourse a government employee would have in the same situation even when the charges/convictions were applicable to the job.

    Given the tone of the article and the point it is trying to make it could be inferred that Savini did something wrong in exposing the double standard that those in the employ of government enjoy.

    Some of the comments on secondcitycop actually have some logical basis (although not verified for truth) for Savini being a hypocrite should certain things be used, but mounting an ordinary legal defense just wouldn’t be one.

  • Lisa Curcio

    It is his right, as it is the right of every citizen, to file the petition to rescind the statutory summary suspension. Many DUI defendants file them. I don’t know how many are granted, but I suspect that the number is not high. Even if he is successful on his petition to rescind the statutory summary suspension, that does not dispose of the DUI charge, so he would not be getting “off on a technicality”. If he fails on the petition, that is not a finding that he is guilty of the charges. As to the charge, as in all criminal cases, he is innocent until proven guilty. Police reports are not evidence. The state’s attorney knows what is evidence, and will make every effort to present evidence to prove its case. If a judge or jury finds him guilty, then he can be called guilty. Otherwise, he is not.

  • Zoe Cappa

    So, by your logic, because Savini got a DUI, that invalidates his reporting from a decade ago? Does that make it okay that 250 cops, firefighters and paramedics had dunk driving offenses? He didn’t make up those facts….they are public record. I’ve never been a fan of Savini’s showboat and smug reporting style, but the logic of this article comes across as twisted. It is more of an irony than hypocrisy that he committed the same crime that he reported on 10 years ago. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think we reserve the term hypocrite for politicians, religious leaders, parents or even celebrities that point out moral judgements on others, not necessarily legal laws broken, and then are later found out to be breaking the very moral codes they hold others to. Reporting on litigated crimes is just matter of fact. Reporters are not exactly making moral judgements on people when they report crimes and are not making any personal claims about their own behavior when doing so. Readers are the ones that make the moral judgements about people when they read about crimes in the news.

  • CL

    I almost feel bad for the guy, that there has been so much publicity — it sounds like he has a drinking problem and maybe anger problems too.

    But I don’t want him driving — I think that if people get their licenses back after a DUI, they should have to install those breathalizers that prevent the car from starting if you’re drunk. But depending on the circumstances and history, some people should not get their licenses back at all.

  • Brian

    Wow, the nonsense continues. You’re attacking someone for exercising their right to a legal defense?
    Oh wit, you, John, you are the type of person who supports things like speed cameras, which take away due process, and also ticket parked cars. In your world, i guess people are guilty until proven innocent. Pretty scary that you would actually write something like this.

  • bedhead1

    Perez Greenfield strikes again.

  • Miriam-Webster defines hypocrisy as “The behavior of people who do things that they tell other people not to do.” Savini ran a news report that highlighted the evils of drunk driving. That was a good thing for him to do. The reason he’s hypocritical is that he turned around and drove drunk himself. It’s certainly within his legal rights to try to keep his license. I’m just pointing out that it’s pretty shameless for him to do so, and it would be highly problematic if the judge allows him to continue driving.

  • CL

    I don’t really blame anyone for trying to keep their license — if his life was set up so that he needed the car, suddenly losing his license would be pretty devastating. It’s up to the courts to decide if he should get it back or not — but I don’t think it’s shameless to ask. He probably believes he won’t make this mistake again.

  • Zoe Cappa

    John, I’m not disputing that what Savini did was wrong or that he should not have to face the usual procedures and penalties of anyone else that drives drunk. I don’t think others here are either. Applying the term hypocrisy to any journalist is problematic. And the key part of the dictionary definition of hypocrisy — the TELLING part. Journalists report, they don’t tell people they are right or wrong or how to behave. They are not reporting moral opinions of anyone when they report crimes. Is it implied, sure maybe, but whether or not Savini himself is a upstanding citizen, or not, is not relevant to his duties or validity of his work reporting criminal acts. So I’m arguing that irony is the better description here than hypocrisy. Also, you might want to do a little research about basic DUI laws and due process and what typical legal judgements are for first time DUI before forming an opinion about whether or not Savini is doing anything other than standard legal defense. If you take a step back and breath for a second you’ll notice no one here is really defending Savini. You are making an illogical leap here that makes readers see the story as flawed. You could have simply reported the arrest, and mention in second paragraph Savini’s past Murrow award for reporting on government employees DUIs and how they were abusing the system to get out of them. Readers will make a logical judgement on their own about those two facts. You’re entitled to your opinion that Savini should not get his license back, and that he is a hypocrite. But if what you are trying to write here is journalism, then your opinions shouldn’t be included when reporting the story. If this is an editorial opinion piece then fine, but it does not appear to be how it was intended, so that is why you’re seeing red flags in the comment section.

  • oooBooo

    No, he ran a report that highlighted there are two sets of rules, one for regular people and one for government people. Also there was an applicability to their jobs.

    When and if he uses his job, local fame, connections, etc to get himself out of this that’s what would make him a hypocrite.

  • oooBooo

    Rule by expert without cumbersome things like due process is the utopia some wish to create and they have had the resources to do it and have been working towards it (largely successfully) for a very long time.

  • Zoe, you seem to be new to Streetsblog. This is a livable streets advocacy website. We make no pretense of reporting the news in a “fair and balanced” manner. So, yes, I’m inserting my opinion here, with little sympathy for a guy who drives drunk with his kids after posing as a crusader against drunk driving.

  • Adam Herstein

    How is driving drunk with your kids in the back seat only a misdemeanor?!

  • Adam Herstein

    You can still legally fight a speed camera ticket. The camera simply replaces the police officer in issuing the ticket. You seem to imply that cameras are circumventing constitutional rights, which is ludicrous.

  • Peter

    …and that’s the difference between Journalists and Bloggers. It’s a real shame when people loose sight of these differences and blog news becomes construed as legitimate news.

  • Zoe Cappa

    “About Us

    Streetsblog is a daily news source …”
    Please change the description of the about page.

  • Voltaire

    This is the real scandal of this incident in my mind.

  • Zoe Cappa

    Easy to lose sight when opinion blogs present and describe what they do as “news.”

  • BlueFairlane

    Three things are true relative to this story:

    First, John often overreaches when he tries to make a point.
    Second, Dave Savini has every legal right to make any defense he wants.

    But these, to me, are far overshadowed by the third truth: Dave Savini committed an indefensible act, made even worse by having his kids in the car. As such, it’s silly to kick up a snit over the first two points.

  • Alex_H

    John didn’t say, “We make no pretense of reporting the news.” He said, “We make no pretense of reporting the news in a ‘fair and balanced’ manner.”

  • Peter

    I agree 100%… now-a-days, everyone with a keyboard fancies themselves a “journalist”

  • SP_Disqus

    Yeah, they should change it to – “Streetsblog is a daily news source connecting people to information about sustainable transportation and livable communities.”

    Oh wait, that’s what it already says.

  • Jim Mitchell

    The DUI charge was (described as) a misdemeanor DUI, which I understand is the basic charge brought against any drunk driver in Illinois. That does not mean this is the end of the story. The authorities are building their case to bring more serious charges, if any are applicable; Savini was arrested, not arraigned. The misdemeanor DUI charge they knew would immediately, without question, stick (based on his BAC and other evidence); and it was enough (along with the battery, endangerment, etc,) to get Savini arrested. The DUI might be upgraded to a felony, based on other circumstances (e.g., if either of his sons is under age 16. Blowing 0.16 or higher also would have taken the charge up a notch to felony, but his BAC was somewhat lower than that.). Kids under age 16 do not carry ID; the kids are described as “teenagers,” not little kids, and so the cops could only guess at their actual ages. Give the authorities some time to sort out the facts and watch what happens next. Savini is a public figure with a lot of money to defend himself, and it’s better that the police and prosecutors work carefully to bring all the right charges and get the just results. Could Illinois have tougher drunk driving laws? Of course; but the police and prosecutors have to work with the laws they have.

  • Jim Mitchell

    More on why this case is going to develop more slowly than some seekers of swift justice may prefer: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/suburbs/naperville_lisle/chi-dave-savini-special-prosecutor-appointment,0,7232742.story

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  • Kelly Pierce

    I am so sick of people attacking John as a socialist because
    he insists public institutions, including the fourth estate be held accountable
    to local communities and their needs. For those that believe john is aggressive
    in his reporting, Second City Cop and his followers are 10 times as harsh on
    this issue. Dave Savini aggressively demands in his reports that government
    does things by the book. A special prosecutor has been named in this case. It is
    the first assistant state’s attorney in Will County, the second ranking
    prosecutor in that office. It is good that significant prosecutorial firepower will
    be matched against the high priced defense lawyer Dave Savini has hired. Years
    from now, Savini’s children and the residents of Naperville will be thanking DuPage
    State’s Attorney Robert Berlin and the Naperville police for working to take
    this drunk off the road and protect his children. Unfortunately, few victims in cases like this
    get an experienced prosecutor to handle a case of a prominent and wealthy defendant.
    At many large prosecutor’s offices, misdemeanor traffic cases are one of the first
    rungs on the career ladder.

    I could care less about the impact on what happens if Dave
    Savini loses his driving privileges. He has a six-figure salary and can afford
    to hire a private driver. In his 2003 report, the first responders with DUI
    convictions picked them up outside working hours. Dave Savini argued that these
    persons should be terminated from their jobs as a violation of the public trust.
    John did not advocate, but he should, that Dave Savini should take his own medicine:
    resign from his position or be fired because he violated the public trust. Journalists
    like Dave Savini are more influential than ordinary cops on the street. If this is Dave Savini’s standard, he should
    live by it. Given that he is fighting the charge that has overwhelming evidence,
    he is as john says a hypocrite.

  • oooBooo

    Poor formatting makes my eyes glaze over.
    Furthermore I don’t bring up socialism or call anyone a socialist above so that seems entirely a nonsensical aside.

    Being a hypocrite is a matter of logic not emotion. There has over time developed two distinct sets of rules in this country. One for those in, employed by, and close to government and those for the rest of us. There is no evidence that Savini is getting special beneficial treatment and according to what you wrote above may be getting especially harsh treatment if I read it correctly through the poor structure and formatting.

    So let me know when Savini gets special treatment and there will be some meat to this charge. So far though it appears he did what anyone else with some resources can do, hire a DUI attorney. Which is pretty much what the system is set up to do, line the pockets of lawyers. Savini also does not drive as part of his job, nor does he ticket/arrest people for driving violations.

  • Kelly Pierce

    Thanks for the feedback regarding formatting. I composed my message in Microsoft Word 2013 on a Windows 8.1 machine. Apparently, the Windows formatting was ported over to the blog commenting system. I am cleansing this message in Notepad to remove formatting. I hope this is better.

    Regarding Dave Savini, he is being treated the same as any other defendant. As a local celebrity, he may have grown accustomed to the world accommodating his needs and revolving around him. Now he gets a taste of how ordinary people live.

    It seems that the only media following this case are the newspapers. To my knowledge, neither his current nor former employer broadcast news of his drunk driving arrest or the details of his case. In this instance, he is being treated special by other broadcast journalists.

  • oooBooo

    Having one’s DUI case covered by TV news or even the newspapers is special treatment, the lack of it is quite ordinary.

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  • mediabites

    Dave Savini is a disgusting hypocrite. Which makes him perfect for a career as a chicago tv and print reporter.

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