By Ruth Fuller
Special to the Tribune
10:24 AM CST, January 30, 2013
The son of former Chicago Bears head coach Mike Ditka received 24 months of probation after pleading guilty to aggravated DUI and possession of a controlled substance in a Lake County courtroom this morning.
It was Mark Ditka’s fourth arrest for DUI, but his first conviction, said Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Ben Dillon. Ditka, of Deerfield, could have received up to three years in prison if he had gone to trial and been found guilty, Dillon said.
“I want to apologize to the court, the village (of Deerfield) and the state,” Ditka said to Judge Mark Levitt before being sentenced. “I will abide by all of the terms you set forth.”
Ditka, 50, was arrested on Oct. 7 after authorities said a bottle of Hydrocodone was found in his car about a block from his home. He was stopped for erratic driving and improper lane use by Deerfield police on Waukegan Road near Central Avenue in the north suburb, according to police.
Authorities found his license was suspended at the time from a September 2011 DUI arrest. That DUI was dropped today as part of the plea agreement, Dillon said.
Ditka refused to give a breath alcohol sample and a blood test, according to police, who also said that when officers searched his vehicle, they found bottle of unmarked pills that turned out to be Hydrocodone, a controlled substance that requires a prescription.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Ditka will have a curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. He will have to submit to random drug and alcohol testing and cannot be in any establishment whose primary purpose is the sale of alcohol. His license will also be suspended for three years and he will have to perform 200 hours of public service.
Last February, a felony DUI charge was dropped against Mark Ditka’s brother, Michael P. Ditka, 51. That had also been Michael Ditka’s fourth DUI arrest.
Mark Ditka's attorney, Robert Ritacca, said that he was pleased with the outcome of the plea agreement.
“It’s kind of a sad story in his young life,” Ritacca said. “He should not be here. He just got caught up in the times.”
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