Saturday, July 17, 2010
Alcoholic Lawyer Get's a Break, Goes To Jail
An attorney who lives in Lisle avoided a possible prison term Monday in an alcohol-related crash that seriously injured a Wheaton teenager.
Timothy J. Winfield (pic) was ordered to serve five months in county jail, perform 150 hours of public service, continue with counseling and wear an alcohol-monitoring bracelet to ensure he complies during a 30-month probation period. After years of legal wrangling, a DuPage County jury convicted the 43-year-old personal injury attorney in a November 2009 verdict of aggravated DUI involving great bodily harm.
Winfield's Cadillac struck a Dodge Caravan Nov. 19, 2005 after running a red light on Butterfield Road at Leask Road in Wheaton. The force of the collision propelled the van about 40 yards down the road and into a nearby forest preserve. The 18-year-old female driver was critically injured. She suffered a fractured pelvis, a severed tendon in her hand and bruised kidneys. Shards of glass were embedded in her face and the woman's seat belt caused burns on her neck.
Blood tests performed on Winfield indicated he had a .10 percent blood-alcohol content, more than the legal threshold of .08 percent. During his hard-fought trial, the defense argued alcohol-based antiseptic pads used by the Illinois State Police to perform tests actually skewed results.
Prosecutors Michael O'Donnell and Shanti Kulkarni convinced jurors that Winfield was intoxicated. On Monday, O'Donnell argued for a maximum three-year prison term after citing Winfield's long history of driving offenses.
His record includes four prior DUI arrests in two counties, though Winfield was acquitted of one and two others were amended to a lesser charge of reckless driving. Winfield also has five arrests for driving while license suspended, six speeding convictions, two for improper lane usage and an attempted obstructing justice for providing police with some false identification during a 1993 traffic stop.
'His record reads like a road map to disaster,' O'Donnell said. 'The system failed in this case. Mr. Winfield should not have been legally behind the wheel in 2005. A split second either way and we could be talking about something far more serious.' Circuit Judge John Kinsella sentenced Winfield Monday. Kinsella warned the attorney if he doesn't comply with the strict terms of probation, prison is the only remaining option.
Winfield, the father of two young children, apologized to the victim and admitted he is an alcoholic who needs help. Winfield said he's been sober for more than four years and is receiving treatment. He must turn himself in Aug. 6. He will be allowed to leave the DuPage County jail during the day to work for the final 120 days of his term."
Not much more needs to be said about this story. A last chance, or a last chance too many? I guess this part of Illinois will find out. Amazingly, alcoholics, even guys this bad, recover. Cunning, baffling and powerful.