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Ditka’s son pleads guilty to DUI, avoids jail

Mark Ditka

Mark Ditka

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Updated: March 2, 2013 7:42AM

The son of legendary Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka avoided a jail term Wednesday when he pleaded guilty to felony drunk driving and drug possession.

Mark Ditka, 50, was placed on 24 months probation and ordered to perform 200 hours of public service work.

The Deerfield man could have been sentenced to as much as three years in prison following his conviction for the October 2012 DUI — which marked the fourth time he has been arrested on drunken driving charges.

But his guilty plea before Lake County Judge Mark Levitt marks his first conviction for drunken driving.

He also pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a controlled substance. Police discovered painkillers in his car during his Oct. 7 arrest for which he lacked a required prescription.

A pending, 2011 misdemeanor DUI charge was dismissed as part of his plea deal with Lake County prosecutors.

Before he was sentenced, Ditka vowed to stay out of trouble.

“I just want to apologize to the court,” Ditka told Levitt. “I will abide by all terms you set.”

The terms include a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew and the suspension of Ditka’s drivers license for three years. He also faces random drug tests.

Violating any of those terms could subject Ditka to resentencing, which would again open the door to a prison term.

He declined to comment outside the courtroom but his attorney said Ditka had gotten into trouble because “he just got caught up in the times.”

“It’s kind of a sad story in his young life,” said defense attorney Robert Ritacca. “He should not be here, he just got caught up in the times.”

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