A veteran Broward circuit judge found herself at the other end of the judicial system Wednesday — carted off to jail following her DUI arrest.
After Judge Cynthia Imperato spent Tuesday evening at a social legal function, she was seen weaving on the roadway, nearly hitting a vehicle in her white Mercedes-Benz in Boca Raton, officials said.
By Wednesday morning Imperato, 56, had been released from jail and called in sick to work. Now, she is awaiting her own judgment while her misdemeanor case plays out. Meanwhile, the Broward chief judge and Broward State Attorney's Office are trying to figure out how to deal with her arrest.
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2400 Palmetto Park Road Boca Raton FL
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Broward Chief Judge Peter Weinstein said there is no specific protocol in place dictating how to handle a judge in this situation.
"Judge Imperato is a fine judge, she is a terrific human being and is entitled to the presumption of innocence and due process," he said.
Known as "Cindy," the former police officer and ex-statewide prosecutor is a well-liked judge, with a reputation for making decisive rulings and running a punctual, speedy docket.
State records show this was her second DUI. The first was in 1988.
Despite two calls to her cellphone, Imperato, a married mother of two, could not be reached for comment Thursday.
"He's all over the road," said a caller who phoned 911 at 9:49 p.m. Tuesday to report seeing an erratic white Mercedes-Benz turn onto Northeast Second Street from Federal Highway.
"He nearly sideswiped me twice. He's gotta be drunk," the caller, who said he wasn't sure if the driver was male or female, said. "He's really dangerous."
It was nearly an hour later and less than three miles away when police witnessed the erratically driven white Mercedes-Benz for themselves, a police report said.
Imperato, a judge since 2003, refused to take a breath test after she was pulled over shortly before 11 p.m. in the 2400 block of West Palmetto Park Road, the report said.
She was in the driver's seat with her window rolled down and was attempting to use her cellphone when Officer Robert Jesionek approached, the report said.
When he asked Imperato if she knew why he stopped her, Imperato said "she was weaving," the report said.
"I could smell a strong odor of alcoholic beverage coming from her breath. Her eyes were red and glassy. Her speech was slow and slurred. Her face was red and flush," Jesionek wrote.
Jesionek set up his in-car camera and asked Imperato to get out of her car, but she refused and said she was calling her attorney, the report said. Jesionek observed that she "was having problems dialing any numbers."
When Imperato finally got out of the car, "she used the door to push herself up" but refused to walk to the front of the vehicle, the report said.
Imperato was placed under arrest at 11:05 p.m., her car was towed and she was taken to jail.
At the station, she refused twice to take a breath test and said "she was refusing to do anything," the report said.
Imperato was booked into jail shortly after 1:30 a.m. and released shortly after 7 a.m. Wednesday, records show. She was given a Dec. 2 court date.