35th Ward Alderman Rey Colón has done some good things for the city, including projects to improve conditions for walking and biking in his Northwest Side district, and he’s a very likeable person. So it was distressing to read that he was arrested early Friday morning for allegedly driving while drunk.
Around 1 a.m. Friday, Colón was driving westbound on the Eisenhower Expressway in his SUV, the Tribune reported. Police officers pulled him over after they observed him drifting between lanes without signaling, as he prepared to exit the highway at Homan Avenue in East Garfield Park.
“[Colón] was cooperative with field sobriety tests and [was] transported to the 11th District for processing,” police spokeswoman Monique Bond told the Sun-Times. “He was given citations for DUI, no driver’s license, improper lane usage and failure to signal when changing lanes. When they pulled up the records, they found that the alderman’s driver’s license had expired less than six months ago.” If convicted on all of these charges, the alderman could face over $10,000 in fines and up to a year in prison.
Bond declined to say whether Colón took a breathalyzer test, as is common these kind of cases. The alderman also declined to say whether he took the test, where he was coming from, and how much he had to drink, the Sun-Times reported.
“It really doesn’t help me to talk about details of the case, because it’s not something that needs to be tried in public,” Colón told the Sun-Times. “I am cooperating, I have every confidence in the legal system that justice will be served in this matter, and I really want to just focus on just serving my constituents, and representing my ward and its neighborhoods, and not let this be a distraction.”
It’s particularly troubling that this was Colón’s second arrest for an alleged DUI. In 1995, he was convicted of driving drunk and sentenced to supervision, according to court records. Two years later, he was found guilty of driving an uninsured car, the Trib reported. These legal problems became a political issue during his first successful aldermanic election campaign in 2003, and again when he ran for reelection in 2007.
Despite his good works for his ward and the city, if Colón is guilty, he should certainly face the same punishment as anyone else. There are myriad safe alternatives to drunk driving in this city, including ride-sharing, taxis, and transit – the alderman was literally a stone’s throw from the Blue Line’s Kedzie-Homan station when he was pulled over.
If Colón was, in fact, driving drunk, there really is no excuse for his behavior, especially since he was cited for the same offense once before. The DUI issue is likely to surface again during his campaign for reelection later this year.