News, Trauma

Ill. Paramedic’s ‘Involuntarily Drunk’ DUI Defense Doesn’t Work

CHICAGO — Will County Judge Amy Bertani-Tomczak wasn’t swayed by a Rosemont paramedic’s claim that the sleep aid Ambien made him involuntarily drink, drive and cause a crash last year that injured an 18-year-old woman.

She found 43-year-old Thomas Gatz of Shorewood guilty Wednesday of aggravated driving under the influence. His attorney, Peter Petrakis, said the conviction will likely end Gatz’s paramedic career.

He said Gatz didn’t drink alcohol before going to bed July 27, 2010, but took two Ambien pills. The next thing Gatz remembered, he said, was waking up in a hospital.

Authorities said Gatz drove his 2010 gray Honda Civic in his underwear that night, going east in the westbound lanes of West Jefferson Street in Joliet. He hit a Pontiac and a Toyota in the 3000 block of West Jefferson.

A passenger in the Toyota suffered multiple fractures in her arm and needed surgery.

A doctor testified Gatz could have involuntarily drank the alcohol and gotten behind the wheel of his car after taking his Ambien.