BLOOMINGTON - Drunken driving charges were dismissed Thursday against a Bloomington police officer after a special prosecutor said the state lacked sufficient evidence to prove its case.
Officer William McGonigle, 35, of Normal was pulled over by a state trooper Jan. 31 for speeding. Court records indicate the patrolman was driving 83 mph in a 45 mph zone on Route 51 at Kerrick Road.
McGonigle refused to take a breath or field sobriety test. He pleaded guilty to speeding and was ordered to pay a $185 fine, attended four hours of traffic school and complete six months of court supervision.
Special Prosecutor Ed Parkinson told a judge during a pre-trial hearing that charges should be dismissed because the evidence is not strong enough to sustain a conviction.
Parkinson said McGonigle was stopped for speeding and the state trooper noted an odor of alcohol and bloodshot eyes as he spoke with the Bloomington officer.
"That's the evidence that is there. Otherwise there is no evidence in the state's assessment to amount to beyond a reasonable doubt," Parkinson told Associate Judge Casey Costigan.
After the hearing, Parkinson said McGonigle was not treated differently because of his position as a law enforcement officer.
"He was arrested like anyone else. He was charged with speeding and refused any and all tests. I don't think I could prove a charge of DUI to a jury," said the special prosecutor, named to avoid conflicts with the McLean County prosecutor's office.
Paid leave, disciplinary action
McGonigle was placed on paid administrative leave from his police job until April, when he was allowed to return to assignments that did not require him to operate a police motor vehicle. Those duties include desk duty, bike patrol and foot patrol, according to a police statement.
McGonigle received an undisclosed disciplinary action from the police department.
A one-year suspension of McGonigle's license remains in effect for his refusal to take a breath test. Drivers are not required to submit to field sobriety tests. At a previous hearing, McGonigle agreed to a Monitoring Device Driving Permit that allows first-time offenders to drive after a breath interlock ignition device is installed in their vehicle.
Jeff Brown, McGonigle's lawyer, agreed with the resolution of the case.
"A dismissal of the charge is appropriate given the state's case for DUI is very weak," said Brown.
The defense lawyer also denied that his client received special treatment.
"If anything, everyone went overboard to make sure that didn't happen," said Brown.