CHICAGO (CBS) — A man with 16 previous convictions for drunk driving was back in court on Wednesday, charged with violating the terms of his bond in yet another DUI case.
Christopher Clingingsmith, 52, was arrested last month for driving on a revoked license, and providing police with a fake ID after a hit-and-run crash in Arlington Heights. At the time, he was free on $400,000 bond on a pending DUI charge.
His attorney said Clingingsmith drove to Arlington Heights to assist his wife after she was involved in a car crash. Prosecutors said he gave police a driver’s license that turned out to be fake.
The state revoked his driver’s license in 2017, and a judge had forbidden him to drive as a condition of setting bail in his pending drunk driving case. In that case, Clingingsmith allegedly fled the scene after crashing into a party bus in Des Plaines.
Due to his 16 DUI convictions, the judge sentenced him to 15 years plus one additional year for driving with a revoked license. His attorney says Clingingsmith will serve about half of that because his DUIs didn’t lead to a death or injury.
“He never had any intention to hurt anybody. Really, the only one he has hurt is himself and his family, who loves him dearly,” said Clingingsmith’s Lawyer, Sam Amirante.
Clingingsmith’s wife told CBS 2 News, “He did his time. He paid his dues. I guess that never goes away. He is a good man.”
During sentencing, Judge Joseph Cataldo said, probably no one in the courthouse has seen one person get as many DUIs as Clingingsmith has add, adding: “Hopefully, while you’re in the penitentiary you will seek some help so when you get out, you have no further issues.”
Rita Kreslin, executive director of the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists, said cases like Clingingsmith’s are about more than just taking away their legal right to drive, it’s about getting them treatment for alcohol abuse.
“I think having him in prison at least, for seven plus years, will give them the opportunity to give him the treatment that he needs, because getting him off the road is so important because it was inevitable that he probably would have hurt someone, or killed someone, or himself,” said Kreslin.
Kreslin also says stronger court monitoring should be in place for repeat DUI offenders in the form of an ankle bracelet that detects when someone drinks.
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White said it’s “an outrage” that Clingingsmith has continued to drive illegally after so many drunk driving covictions.
“This story is an unfortunate example that there are some people who will totally disregard the law. This is why I continue working to make Illinois roads as safe as possible,” he said.