CBS 2 News investigative reporter and Naperville resident Dave Savini was convicted Tuesday morning of drunken driving, stemming from a case early last month that began in the drive-through lane of a fast-food restaurant in the west-central part of the city.
Savini, 47, of Naperville’s far south side, pleaded guilty in DuPage County Circuit Court in Wheaton to a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol. Companion charges of battery, endangering the health or life of a child and leaving the scene of an accident involving vehicular damage were dismissed in exchange for that plea.
Judge James J. Konetski accepted Savini’s plea and ordered him to perform 200 hours of community service work as part of his penalty. Savini also was placed on a year of court supervision, ordered to attend the county’s drunken-driving school, make restitution to the driver of the vehicle damaged in the incident and pay a fine of $1,700 plus court costs, said his attorney, Terry Ekl.
Savini was arrested following the incident that began about 12:21 a.m. Jan. 4 at the Taco Bell restaurant at 1287 Rickert Drive, and ended in the parking lot of a strip mall not far from his home.
Following the hearing, Savini released a written, four-sentence statement to members of the local media covering the case.
“There’s no doubt about it, I made a mistake and used bad judgement, to drive after drinking,” Savini wrote. “I take full responsibility and I apologize – I deeply regret it.”
“My heartfelt thanks to my family, friends, colleagues and viewers who have supported me during this very difficult time,” Savini wrote. “I look forward to get (sic) back to work, and I will work hard to regain the trust of those who I may have let down.”
Ekl said documents, videotapes and other evidence he subpoenaed prior to the sentencing showed Savini “did not batter anybody at the Taco Bell,” as the other driver told police he had, nor did he leave without providing his identity and sufficient other information to the other motorist.
The restaurant’s exterior video surveillance tape showed the other driver was not pushed or shoved, as he had contended, Ekl said. Savini said no shoving occurred, and the four passengers who were inside the two vehicles at the time said they did not see Savini make any physical contact with the other motorist, Ekl said.
“He rightfully was arrested for DUI,” Ekl said of Savini. “ He is not a problematic drinker. The speed of the quote, collision, was probably one to two miles per hour,” and prosecutors agreed to dismiss the other charges because “they recognized the true facts of the case,” he said.
The Sun last month obtained copies of Naperville police reports on the matter via a Freedom of Information Act request.
Police who responded to the restaurant were met there by the driver of a tan, 2005 Ford Explorer the reports identified as being a student, along with his two passengers.
The driver said as he was placing his party’s order at the drive-through window, his vehicle was struck from behind by what police later identified as having been a black, 2003 GMC Envoy. The student and the other driver, later identified as Savini, got out of their vehicles to inspect the damage, which amounted to the rear bumper of the Explorer being “off alignment, with the left side of the bumper pulled away from the joint,” the reports stated.
Savini appeared to be “very nervous and … uncooperative,” the other driver told police. He said he asked Savini for his telephone number, and when he called the number Savini provided, he “received a message that the number was not a working number,” the reports indicated. Savini then provided his cell phone number, which rang when the other driver called it.
When the other driver suggested calling the police, Savini “got defiant, telling him that the police were not needed, there was no damage, and he was making a big issue out of nothing,” the reports revealed.
The driver then tried to take a photograph of the Envoy’s license plate, at which point Savini “shoved him about his chest and arm area with his hands and told him he could not take a photo” before getting back inside the Envoy and driving off toward Rickert Drive and West Street, according to the reports.
The driver’s friends told police they never got out of the Explorer, but could hear the argument between their friend and Savini. Both also said “they did not witness” Savini’s alleged shoving of the driver, the reports stated.
Police then asked the driver to call the cell phone number he had been given, and to use his speaker phone feature. “The call went unanswered, but a voice message for Dave Savini, investigative reporter, CBS 2 News was heard,” the reports indicated.
The driver also identified Savini from his photograph on the CBS 2 News website, the reports revealed.