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Broward Judge Charged With DUI

FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A Broward judge spotted driving erratically in Boca Raton Tuesday night was arrested and charged with driving under the influence.

Just before 10 p.m., police received a call about a driver of a white Mercedes-Benz driving erratically in the area of 49 NE 2nd Street. The caller said the driver seemed to be impaired.

"I want to report a drunk driver. I'm driving north on Federal Highway in Boca Raton," said the caller. "He's all over the road.  He nearly side swiped me twice.  He's gotta be drunk."

" Was it a male or female driver? " asked the 911 operator. "I couldn't see but he's really dangerous," the caller said.

When police pulled over the car about an hour later, it turned out to be a female behind the wheel, Judge Imperato.

About an hour after that call, a Boca Raton police officer pulled over the driver of a white Mercedes-Benz at 2400 W Palmetto Park Road. The officer "observed the vehicle driving erratically. The vehicle nearly struck another vehicle at one point," according to the probable cause affidavit.

When asked why she was pulled over the driver, identified as 56-year old Cynthia Imperato, replied because she weaving.

In the report, the officer noted that Imperato had a strong smell of alcohol on her breath, her eyes were red and glassy, her speech was slow and slurred, and her face was flushed.

When asked to get out of the vehicle, Imperato refused and then told the officers she was calling her attorney. The officers noted in the report that she had trouble dialing the phone.

After refusing repeated requests to get out of the car, the officers opened the driver's side door and asked her a final time. She did, but had to use the car door to push herself up, according to the report.

After refusing to take a breath test or walk in front of a patrol car for a DUI test, Imperato was placed under arrest and her car was towed.

"In the criminal justice system, she's going to be treated just like anyone else who's accused of DUI," said Nova Southeastern University Law Professor Bob Jarvis.

He said Judge Imperato will likely be investigated by the Judicial Qualification Committee and eventually have to stand before Florida's Supreme Court Justices. "Based on previous cases with judges who have been accused of first time DUI, what the Florida Supreme Court will do is publicly reprimand her, slap her on the wrist tell her not to do it again," figures Jarvis.

CBS4's Ted Scouten tried speaking to Judge Imperato at her home but no one came to the door.  On her courtroom door, there was a sign saying she was out sick. When this is all over, chances are she'll keep her place on the bench.

"She'll have that public embarrassment, but other than that, she'll be able, in all likelihood  hold on to her judgeship."

Imperato has been a Broward circuit judge since 2003.

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