WILLIAMSON COUNTY -- Williamson County State's Attorney Brandon Zanootti is more used to being the prosecutor than the prosecuted, but his error in judgment on Saturday evening has put him on the opposite side of the table.
Zanotti was cited for driving under the influence of alcohol late Saturday night during a routine traffic stop by Illinois State Police.
On Sunday afternoon, Zanotti released the follow statement to the Marion Republican:
"For the past 7 1/2 years I have served as the Williamson County State's Attorney. Holding this position has been one of the proudest achievements of my career. I am forever grateful to the voters who instilled their trust and confidence in me and the opportunity to serve the public.
For these reasons, and in recognition that it is my obligation to be transparent, I am devastated to share a failure on my part that has caused me to personally let you down.
Last night I was operating a motor vehicle in Williamson County while traveling home from a friend's house after consuming alcohol. While firmly believing that I was not impaired and that I was capable of driving, my professional experience should have told me otherwise. While traveling, I was stopped by an Illinois State Trooper for speeding and subsequently cited for driving under the influence of alcohol. I am thankful that my actions did not result in injury to anyone, but I am ashamed and embarrassed as a result.
I have made the decision to accept responsibility for my actions and I will not be contesting charges which will ultimately be handled by a special prosecutor. To be clear, I will be pleading guilty and accepting the same penalties that any member of the public would receive. I fully believe and support our legal system and do not condone any special treatment for myself in these unusual circumstances.
I extend a sincere apology to the Illinois State Police whose Trooper had the difficult task of being forced to deal with my indiscretion. That Trooper displayed impeccable professionalism. I further apologize to all law enforcement and the public. You placed your trust in me and I let you down.
I am hopeful that in the future I am allowed to demonstrate the judgment that I more often display and over time can again regain your trust."
In a phone interview, Zanotti admitted that this incident will definitely change the way he looks at others in his predicament.
"This is definitely a harsh learning experience for me," he said. "It's an error in judgment that I am truly thankful will only have personal consequences for me. I hope that by taking responsibility for my actions, I can influence others to make a more responsible decision that I made."
Zanotti reiterated that he will plead guilty and accept the consequences of his action.
"I am open to any kind of community service including public speaking appearances and financial donations to organizations that standing against impaired driving."