Some people get all the breaks
Loopholes allow Springfield man to drive after four DUI arrests
Just after midnight on Nov. 6, 2010, a Riverton Police officer noticed a blue pickup truck speeding down the street by Riverton High School. The truck slammed on the brakes to avoid rear-ending a car stopped at the four-way stop, then screeched through the intersection, following the first car closely and blowing through the stop sign.
The police officer followed the truck and observed it “having difficulty maintaining a steady course of travel.
“The truck was going from riding close to the centerline to riding close to the edge of the road,” the police report notes. The officer pulled over the truck, driven by Gregory T. Selinger, then 42, of Springfield, and smelled “a strong odor of alcohol coming from the cab of the truck.”
Selinger is an employee of City Water, Light & Power – one of three employees accused of hanging nooses in CWLP facilities. In September 2010, Selinger and fellow CWLP employees Kevin Conway and Bradley Barber were cleared by a grand jury of any criminal wrongdoing for their involvement. Gregory Selinger is also the nephew of the city’s Human Resources director, Larry Selinger.
When Gregory Selinger was arrested in Riverton in November, the arresting officer reported noticing “Selinger’s eyes were glassy, and when he spoke, he slurred and mumbled his speech.
“When asked for his insurance card, Selinger had difficulty finding it,” the officer wrote in his report. “His movement toward his glove box and back seemed very labored, as did the movement of his head. It appeared to take all of Selinger’s concentration to locate his insurance card.”
After running Selinger’s license and insurance, the officer asked Selinger to exit the truck and perform a field sobriety test.
Selinger refused to perform the field sobriety test, then said he would, then refused once more and was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. A search of his truck yielded two open containers of beer under the driver’s seat, along with an open 12-pack with several bottles missing.
It wasn’t his first such arrest. Selinger was picked up on suspicion of driving under the influence in 1993, 2001 and 2007, and there may have been earlier arrests that are no longer available in court records. But Selinger has so far managed to avoid being convicted of DUI. His 1993 arrest resulted in a plea of guilty to reckless driving, with court supervision and a $750 fine. The DUI charge against him in 2001 was reduced to reckless driving, and Selinger again got court supervision and a $300 fine. For his 2007 DUI arrest, Selinger once more pleaded down to reckless driving and received court supervision and a $1,000 fine.
Though most of the court records pertaining to Selinger’s previous driving history are no longer available, records from his 2007 DUI case seem to show a clear case of DUI. The officer who arrested Selinger in that case reported finding him “passed out behind wheel of vehicle,” and noted a “strong odor of alcoholic beverage on breath/person, open alcohol in vehicle, admit to beers prior to driving, slurred speech.”
With cases that seem like slam dunks for prosecutors, it’s unclear how Selinger avoided serious repercussions for his behavior. Illinois law allows a drunk driver to be charged with felony aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol for a third offense, but Selinger’s previous DUI arrests don’t count toward that total because those cases didn’t result in DUI convictions. If Selinger had been convicted of his previous DUI charges, he would now face a Class 4 felony charge, which carries a possible prison sentence of between one and three years.
Meanwhile, Sangamon County Associate Judge John Madonia granted Selinger his driver’s license back in the current DUI case after a “statutory summary suspension” – a temporary suspension based on Selinger’s refusal to take a blood-alcohol test. Illinois Secretary of State spokesman Dave Druker says Selinger’s license is “currently functioning.” It is unclear whether Madonia put any restrictions on Selinger’s driving privileges.
In addition to reckless driving convictions in 1993, 2001 and 2007, Selinger pleaded guilty to driving without a license in 2007 and has been convicted of illegal transportation of alcohol at least once before.
Selinger’s DUI case stemming from his November 2010 arrest is scheduled for trial on Aug. 29. He is also charged with one count of illegal transportation of alcohol and one count of squealing tires. Selinger’s attorney, Adam Giganti of Springfield, declined to comment and indicated Selinger would not comment.
Contact Patrick Yeagle at firstname.lastname@example.org.