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Ben Owens press conference
Ben Owens spoke to the public about his traffic offenses, Monday, May 2, 2011. (The Pantagraph, Edith Brady-Lunny)

BLOOMINGTON -- McLean County Board member Ben Owens admitted in court Thursday that he violated the terms of his court supervision for driving on a suspended license.

In the past year, Owens, 30, has received four citations for driving on a suspended license, including two in DeWitt County and two in McLean County. He pleaded guilty to each offense. His license was suspended for receiving too many speeding tickets.

Special Prosecutor Michael Vujovich handled Owens' misdemeanor case for the state at Thursday's hearing. Vujovich's appointment was prompted by a request from McLean County State's Attorney Bill Yoder who previously said he was unaware of the traffic tickets pending against the county board member.

The court supervision Owens was given in a July 2010 McLean County case was revoked at Thursday's hearing and a conviction entered -- consequences he received because another citation was issued in January. If Owens had completed his court supervision, he could have avoided having a conviction on his record.

Associate Judge David Butler reminded Owens that about $600 in fines and fees in the July case must be paid by July of this year. The judge also told Owens that the conviction could have an impact on his driving privileges. The Illinois Secretary of State's office could extend the time Owens' license is suspended once the conviction is entered.

The District 10 county board member remains on 18 months' probation for a ticket he received in DeWitt County.

Owens has apologized for the embarrassment his driving record has caused his family and the community. Last week, he stepped down as board vice chairman.

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