Diehl Arrest Places DUI Spotlight on the NFL

New York Giants offensive lineman David Diehl was arrested for driving while intoxicated in Queens on June 2 after his BMW struck two parked cars on 35th Avenue. He reportedly registered a blood alcohol content of 0.18, over twice the legal limit in New York. The arrest came just two days after Diehl met with President Obama as part of the coronation of the Giants as Super Bowl champions. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident when it comes to NFL players. In fact, in just over a month since the 2012 Memorial Day weekend, at least six NFL players have been arrested for DWI (or DUI, depending upon the terminology of the state in which they were charged). Here’s what the details look like:

    • May 27 – Detroit Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley was arrested in Alabama. In addition to driving under the influence, Fairley was charged with attempting to elude police, reckless driving, having no proof of insurance and having an open container of alcohol in his vehicle. Earlier this year, Fairley was arrested for marijuana possession;
    • June 2 – Jerome Felton, fullback for the Vikings, was stopped at a McDonald’s drive-thru in Minnesota, reportedly refused a chemical test, and was arrested for DWI;
    • June 3 – Wide receiver Justin Blackmon, the no. 1 draft pick this year of the Jacksonville Jaguars and the no. 5 NFL pick overall, was charged with aggravated DUI in Oklahoma. The “aggravating” factor was a blood alcohol reading of .024, three times the legal limit. Blackmon had previously been arrested in Texas in 2010 for DWI;
    • June 23 – Aaron Berry, cornerback for the Detroit Lions, became yet another member of his team to be charged with a crime during this year’s offseason, when he was arrested in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Berry allegedly rammed his BMW into two parked cars, walked away, and entered a nearby Hilton Hotel. Reports stated the he was later found by officers staggering out of the hotel. Berry refused a breathalyzer test, and was cited for DUI and leaving the scene of an accident;
    • July 2 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Eric Wright was arrested on suspicion of felony DUI in Los Angeles. The felony charge is the result of the fact the there was a collision involved, and the driver of the other vehicle suffered an injury.

So that comes to six DWI/DUI arrests among NFL players in a little over five weeks. In addition, there have been a total of over 20 NFL players arrested so far in 2012. The Detroit Lions suffered the most in this dubious category, with a number of their players being charged with crimes. Those arrested also include Johnny Culbreath (possession of marijuana), and Mike LeShoure (two arrests for marijuana possession), in addition to Berry and Fairley.

The substantial number of arrests, while surprising to many, are really nothing new when it comes to the NFL. If we go back to the three month period between mid-January and mid-April of last year, a total of 17 players were arrested on charges including DWI, eluding police, felony theft, drug possession, resisting arrest, assault, aggravated assault, public intoxication, disturbing the police, a number of weapons violations, battery, and even public nudity.

It is difficult to ascertain the underlying reasons for the behavior suggested by some of these arrests. With regard to the DWI issue, many people believe that lessening the incidence of inappropriate and illegal conduct requires consequences. Well, in our country most states have been increasing penalties for intoxicated drivers, and New York has some of the stiffest penalties of all. We’re not sociologists or psychiatrists, but we do believe that we’ve got to begin looking harder at the root causes of alcohol and drug abuse, which reached epidemic proportions in the United States.

On the other hand, the NFL could likely do more in its attempts to deal with the issue. At the present time, Commissioner Roger Goodell has significant restrictions on the possible range of penalties he can impose on players. That limit, for first-time non-aggravated DWI offenders, is a single game’s earnings, up to a maximum of $50,000 – no suspension – and even though that sounds like a lot of money to those of us who live in the real world, the truth is that $50,000 means little when you’ve just signed a multi-year contract worth tens of millions of dollars. We agree with those who are lobbying for increased discretion on the part of the commissioner when it comes to players who insist on driving while intoxicated.

If you have been charged with DWI or any alcohol-related offense, contact and experienced New York DWI lawyer to protect your interests.

George Vomvolakis Law Offices
275 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016
(212) 682-0700