Former White Sox great Carlton Fisk pleads guilty to misdemeanor DUI
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain email@example.com December 27, 2012 12:40PM
Former White Sox catcher Carlton Fisk is shown in this New Lenox Police Department mug shot.
Updated: January 29, 2013 6:26AM
White Sox great Carlton Fisk pleaded guilty to misdemeanor DUI on Thursday in Will County court in Joliet.
The first-time offense means Fisk, 64, of New Lenox, will serve one year on court supervision. He has to pay $1,250 in court costs. And he must undergo an alcohol abuse evaluation and meet with a panel composed of people who have lost loved ones to drunken drivers.
In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors dropped charges of transportation of open alcohol and improper lane use against Fisk.
Special prosecutor Dave Neal said the sentence is normal for a first-time misdemeanor DUI offense in Will County.
“We made him the same offer we would make any first-time offender in Will County,” Neal said.
Defense attorney Don DeWilkens said Fisk knows he is a role model, and that played into his decision to plead guilty.
“He took responsibility when most athletes wouldn’t take responsibility,” DeWilkens said after the hearing. “He realizes people, kids look up to him.”
In court, defense attorney Stephen White said Fisk had been taking prescription medication and did not realize what effect it would have in combination with alcohol. And while that could have been used as a defense, Fisk “stepped up to the plate” and accepted responsibility, White said.
Neal said while Fisk did have a possible defense, “Everyone should know that even taking a small amount of alcohol with prescription medication can lead to a very serious outcome. We’re all lucky Mr. Fisk wasn’t injured and no one else was injured.”
Fisk, who stood before the judge with his hands clasped behind his back, did not speak during the hearing other than to confirm that he wanted to plead guilty and to thank Judge Bennett Braun after Braun said, “Good luck to you, sir.”
The Illinois secretary of state’s office had suspended Fisk’s license for 12 months as of Dec. 7 because he refused to take tests to confirm his blood-alcohol level at the time of his arrest. But Fisk’s license was reinstated on Thursday when both Neal and White agreed that the warning given to Fisk at the scene was the one normally given to offenders on public highways or parking lots.
Fisk’s vehicle was parked on private land when police discovered it on Oct. 22 after passing motorists reported seeing a Ford pickup truck go off the road and into a field at Gougar and Spencer roads.
Fisk, who was a catcher for the Sox and the Boston Red Sox, was behind the wheel and unconscious when a New Lenox police officer found him and recognized him, police said. There was an open bottle of vodka in the truck, police said.
He was taken to Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox for an examination, police said.
After he was discharged from the hospital, Fisk was charged with drunken driving, transportation of open alcohol and improper lane use.
White said Fisk lives in New Lenox and he has another home in Bradenton, Fla., which is the address listed on his license.
Neal was appointed as a special prosecutor because assistant state’s attorneys were listed as potential witnesses against Fisk because of statements they made to police early on in the case, White explained.
White Sox spokesman Scott Reifert said team officials had no comment on Fisk’s guilty plea. The popular former player and member of baseball’s Hall of Fame serves as a community relations ambassador for the team, and that is unlikely to change, Reifert added.
“He certainly is a Hall of Famer and played for many years for the White Sox,” Reifert said. “Fans really enjoy spending time (with him) and seeing someone like Carlton Fisk. I wouldn’t anticipate that changing at all.”