Crime

Special prosecutor assigned a second DUI case against Steve Wigginton

Dashboard footage of Steve Wigginton’s DUI arrest

Police have released dashboard footage of Steve Wiggninton's DUI arrest. The video shows him failing a sobriety test and refusing a breathalyzer test before being arrested.
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Police have released dashboard footage of Steve Wiggninton's DUI arrest. The video shows him failing a sobriety test and refusing a breathalyzer test before being arrested.

The special prosecutor who handled former U.S. Attorney Steve Wigginton’s DUI case in 2017 also has been assigned to handle the criminal case filed against Wigginton in connection with a driving under the influence charge from New Year’s Eve.

David Rands, from the Illinois State’s Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor’s Office, will oversee the case, the Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office said.

A special prosecutor is called in on cases where a conflict of interest arises in a state’s attorney’s office and the state’s attorney wants an independent, detached review of the case. Before becoming the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Wigginton worked part-time as a Madison County state’s attorney.

Rands could not be reached for comment.

Rands was the special prosecutor who handled Wigginton’s May 2017 DUI arrest in Madison County when the former U.S. Attorney plowed through a fence off Interstate 55-70 in Troy. Wigginton pleaded guilty to the charge in 2017. He was sentenced to court supervision and a fine of $1,500.

On Dec. 31, Wigginton’s ex-wife called Edwardsville police to tell them Wigginton was intoxicated. Officers located Wigginton’s silver Jeep near the intersection of Plummer Drive and Commerce Drive. Wigginton failed a field sobriety test and refused to take a breathalyzer test, prompting officers to issue citations for driving under the influence and improper lane usage.

Police video of the incident shows Wigginton almost falling over as officers conduct a field sobriety test.

Last week, Madison County Circuit Clerk Mark Von Nida told County Board members that the civil case regarding Wigginton’s driver’s license had been dropped due to a miscalculation by one of his employees. Wigginton was among six other people who then got their driver’s licenses reinstated.

A person who faces a criminal charges of driving under the influence also faces a civil case regarding their driver’s license, which can be revoked if the Secretary of State’s Office, which has the ultimate authority in license revocation cases, chooses to take those measures.

Deputy Clerk Dina Burch told County Board members that on Feb. 1, Wigginton’s attorney, Curtis Dawson, requested a hearing on his client’s behalf. Those hearings, however, must be scheduled within 30 days of when the request was made. An employee who handled scheduling in the circuit clerk’s office miscalculated, and scheduled Wigginton’s hearing for March 7, six days after the deadline.

Von Nida acknowledged that the mistake shouldn’t have happened and said his office is taking steps to prevent it from happening again, implementing a system where more people will involved in checking and scheduling DUI hearings.

Mike Walters, a Republican County Board member, raised the question of whether Wigginton’s case was dropped because he is a Democrat as is Von Nida. However, Von Nida denied that politics caused the problem but that it was caused by “human error.”

The criminal case against Wigginton, however, will proceed and that is what Rands will prosecute.

The next court date on the DUI charge is scheduled for 1 p.m. May 2, according to Madison County court records.

Wigginton resigned as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois in November 2015.

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Hana Muslic has been a public safety reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat since August 2018, covering everything from crime and courts to accidents, fires and natural disasters. She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Journalism and her previous work can be found in The Lincoln Journal-Star and The Kansas City Star.
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