Mundelein trustee apologizes after DUI arrest
Newly elected Mundelein Trustee Dakotah Norton apologized Wednesday after a weekend drunken-driving arrest in neighboring Vernon Hills.
"I'm very sorry to everybody who's been impacted by this, specifically the residents, the people who voted for me, my fellow board members and my friends and family who are helping me get through this," Norton told the Daily Herald.
The 25-year-old Norton, who was elected in April and took office in May, said he is researching treatment options. He doesn't plan to resign.
"This is never going to happen again," he said.
But the arrest prompted harsh words from Trustee Ray Semple, the board's senior member.
"With less than two months (as a trustee), he's embarrassed himself, the village and the office," Semple said. "I'm a little disappointed."
Trustee Dawn Abernathy was similarly upset.
"We're supposed to be adults here," Abernathy said. "I think he seriously needs to think about what he needs to do."
Norton, of the 300 block of Shaddle Avenue, was arrested Sunday night. It was the latest run-in with police for Norton, whose criminal history includes drug and shoplifting arrests as a teenager, according to public records.
A Vernon Hills police officer stopped Norton about 11:15 p.m. Sunday while the trustee was driving a 1999 Volkswagen Passat.
The officer started following Norton on Butterfield Road south of Allanson Road because the Passat had only one working taillight, Vernon Hills police spokesman Kim Christenson said.
The officer saw the Passat straddle the white lane lines and swerve right and left to pass another car, Christenson said.
Upon reaching Route 60, Norton turned east despite the turn light being red, Christenson said.
The officer stopped Norton's car on Route 60 just east of Butterfield Road. The officer smelled alcohol on Norton's breath and administered a field sobriety test, after which Norton was arrested, Christenson said.
Norton submitted to a blood-alcohol test at the police station, but Christenson would not release the results.
Norton was charged with driving under the influence, driving under the influence with a blood-alcohol level of more than .08, operating an uninsured vehicle, improper lane usage and other traffic violations.
He was released after leaving his driver's license as bond. He is scheduled to appear in court in Waukegan on July 15.
Norton told the Daily Herald he'd been drinking at home with friends and left to buy food.
"In retrospect, I should have had somebody else drive me," he said. "It was a quick lapse in judgment."
Norton said he was grateful his actions didn't result in injuries or property damage.
Mundelein Mayor Steve Lentz said he heard about Norton's arrest Tuesday and called the trustee to confirm it. Lentz said Norton was "apologetic to me, our trustees and the community,"
Lentz said he hasn't asked Norton to resign.
"I know the public is very forgiving when you have someone who is apologetic and taking the steps to make sure this never happens again," Lentz said.
During this year's campaign, the Daily Herald asked Norton and the other board candidates to describe any arrests or criminal convictions as part of routine questionnaires. Norton admitted to "a few minor teenage juvenile things" and didn't elaborate.
Public court records indicate Norton was charged under local ordinance with retail theft in June 2006, when he was 16. Later that year, Norton was twice charged under local ordinance with possession of cannabis and once with possession of drug paraphernalia, records show.
In November 2007, 18-year-old Norton was arrested and charged with felony possession of cannabis and manufacturing or delivering cannabis, records show.
In that case, he was fined, sentenced to probation and ordered to complete 100 hours of public service, according to records.
When asked about those arrests, Norton said he received drug treatment and has been drug-free for eight years.