If Colón Is Guilty of Drunk Driving, There’s No Excuse for His Behavior

Rey Colon
35th Ward Alderman Rey Colón

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.

  • tooter turtle

    Expired license? How hard is it to renew a license? I do it online in about 3 minutes. Also, buying insurance is not so tough. I am always surprised when public figures fail to do these very simple things.

  • Str0ng

    Let’s be honest this is likely not his first time drunk driving since his previous conviction. Odds are that most drunk drivers get away with it for a long time before they are even caught. According to previous studies the average drunk driver will get away with it 87 times before he/she is caught.

  • Lisa Curcio

    The Streetsblog treatment of the charge against Colon–a bike friendly alderman–is in marked contrast to the Streetsblog treatment of the charge against Dave Savini in this January 14, 2014 article: http://chi.streetsblog.org/tag/drunk-driving/
    Both charged, both innocent until proven guilty under the law, but Savini convicted by Streetsblog prior to trial for having exercised legal rights.

  • Str0ng

    The irony was str0ng with that one. Streetsblog is not the judge, the jury or the executioner FYI.

  • Mike McCune

    It would be a shame if he lost his office because of irresponsible personal behavior. I used to be in his ward and he is a good alderman who listens to his constituents and actually reads the legislation he votes on (he was one of the few who voted against the parking meter deal). He is also a very friendly, likable guy.

  • It’s possible I’ve cut Colón too much slack here. However, I might have been less critical of Savini had he not shoved another motorist before fleeing the scene, driving drunk with his teenage sons in the car.

  • Lisa Curcio

    Your reply illustrates my point, John. Unless you were a witness, everything you related about Savini was based upon news reports or police reports based upon statements of others. Your reply reiterates exactly the same thing. You have the same type of information about Colon, but have chosen to “cut him slack”.

    My problem is not with criticism of the alleged behavior–it is that you have written about Colon as you should–he is accused but not convicted of DUI–but you wrote about Savini as if he had pleaded guilty or been convicted of all of the conduct of which he was accused.

  • I didn’t choose to cut Colón slack. However, it’s possible that the fact that the allegations Savini were particularly heinous, and that Savini was trying to get his license back, which Colón hasn’t done yet, influenced the tone of my writing.

    I misremembered that case somewhat in my previous comment — the battery charges were dropped but Savini plead guilty to driving drunk and admitted that his kids were with him: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-02-04/news/chi-savini-case-could-be-resolved-tuesday-20140203_1_cbs-2-reporter-other-motorist-taco-bell

    As in my writeup of the Colón case, I attributed all the statements about the Savini case to the sources, although I may have missed an “allegedly” or two.

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