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WEST PALM BEACH (CBSMiami) – From the bench in judicial robes, to the side of the road with her hands cuffed behind her and now to the hot seat in a courtroom, Judge Cynthia Imperato is getting her chance to fight a DUI charge.
Her traffic stop and arrest was captured on a Boca Raton Police dash cam in November 2013.
When Judge Imperato was pulled over, she initially refused to get out of the car.
“I’m trying to call my lawyer,” she explained to the officer. “I’m going to sit in my car until I get my lawyer.”
Imperato’s attorney let jurors know early on that she’s a judge. Prosecutors planned to use that while arguing the case.
“This lady here is a judge,” explained her attorney Marc Shiner. “Do you think she has to right to plead not guilty to something she’s accused of?”
She was stopped after another driver called 911, saying they saw an erratic driver go by. Initially, the caller thought it was a man behind the wheel.
“He’s all over the road!” the caller said. “He nearly sideswiped me twice. He’s got to be drunk.”
In opening statement, prosecutor Ari Goldberg explained Judge Imperato was at a function with lawyers and judges and there was an open bar.
Goldberg said the judge admitted to the officer who stopped her that he had been drinking. He also said the officer noticed glassy eyes and the smell of alcohol on her breath.
Imperato’s attorney Heidi Collet said the person who called 911 had no idea who was in the car and no idea what was going on inside. Collet suggested maybe she was sending a text message or trying to find an address on her phone GPS.
Testimony is expected to get underway Thursday at 8:45 a.m. The case should wrap up by the end of the day. If convicted, Imperato could face a maximum of 9 months in county jail.
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