A Palatine woman who was drunk when she picked up her 1-year-old granddaughter from a day care center was sentenced to 12 years in prison Wednesday.
Jeanine Jenkins, 53, was intoxicated on April 23, 2012, when she picked up the toddler from a Palatine day care center and drove away over the protests from day care employees.
Jenkins' conviction by a jury in May was her 7th for DUI and carried a possible sentence of 6 to 30 years. Jenkins must complete at least 50 percent of the sentence before she is eligible for parole.
"The evidence in this case was overwhelming," Cook County Judge Kay Hanlon said Wednesday. During the trial, seven prosecution witnesses testified Jenkins was impaired, smelled of alcohol, walked unsteadily and was unable to open a door. Police officers called to the day care center testified Jenkins initially ignored orders to pull over and that she failed several field sobriety tests.
Hanlon also imposed a $25,000 fine, which is mandatory for anyone convicted of DUI while transporting a child younger than 16.
Professing love for her daughter, granddaughter and a newborn grandson whom she has never seen, an emotional Jenkins sobbed during the hearing and pleaded for leniency. She insisted she was not drunk when she went to collect her granddaughter, who she called "the apple of my eye."
Acknowledging a problem with alcohol, Jenkins said a December 2001 incident in which police found her lying face down in a Palatine motel room she shared with her 7-year-old daughter was a "final wake-up call." Charges in that case were dismissed, but Jenkins said it prompted her to change her life.
Defense attorney Joseph Seligmann said Jenkins was last charged with DUI in 1995. Her "last contact with alcohol" came in 2002, he said, and she has participated actively in Alcoholics Anonymous ever since.
"Miss Jenkins has turned her life around," Seligmann said.
To that end, he pointed to defense witnesses who have attended AA meetings with Jenkins several times a month over the last 10 years.
"She has been helpful to me in my own sobriety," said one woman, who has been sober for nine years. "She helped me understand the disease we both share."
The witnesses testified they never saw Jenkins intoxicated and did not believe she posed a threat.
Hanlon disagreed, saying "a person convicted of seven charges of DUI is a huge danger."