After being arrested in April of this year, Raiders WR Darrius Heyward-Bey will stand trial on July 23 after pleading not guilty to DUI charges at his arraignment back in May. For those who may be unaware of the details, Heyward-Bey was pulled over by California Highway Patrol in a routine traffic stop on the Bay Bridge; he was arrested for misdemeanor drunken driving after blowing a 0.12 and 0.13.
Now, I know the usual response to these kinds of stories are, “He has all that money and no brains” or “WHY DIDN’T HE CALL A DAMN CAB?! He’s a millionaire!” The truth is, the precedent set by the NFL when it comes to corrective action for players who are charged with a DUI is quite weak and almost laughable.
Hell, just in 2012 alone, I counted seven NFL players with various teams that have been arrested for DUIs or suspicion of DUI. Most recently, Lions’ Nick Fairley was arrested on May 27 in Alabama, and Jaguars’ new WR Justin Blackmon (a 2012 first-round draftee that hasn’t even played a game yet) also blew a 0.24 in Oklahoma back in June. That’s three times the legal limit! All are still awaiting trial.
An example like Redskins’, Donte Stallworth, is prime in this case. Stallworth was arrested and charged in March 2009 after hitting and killing a pedestrian. He plead guilty to DUI manslaughter charges the following April, received 30 days in jail (was released after 24 of those days), and was only suspended from the NFL for the full 2009 season, upon which he was immediately reinstated after Super Bowl XLIV. If I’m not mistaken, in any other job in North America, for any average citizen whether American or Canadian, your employer would reprimand you somehow (severity would probably depend on a past criminal record if there is one, the type of work you do, and how long you’ve been with said company). The point is, Stallworth killed a guy, received less than 30 days in jail and is still allowed to work. Clearly this message Roger Goodell and the NFL have sent out has registered with current players, coming off as a lenient.
So, what’s next for DHB? It all depends on what unfolds during the trial, but California laws are quite strict when it comes to DUI, compared to the rest of the country at least. Because this is his first offense, this is what he could face:
- Four days to six months in jail
- Fines of between $1,400-$2,600 (in other words, chump change for a pro athlete)
- License suspension between 30 days and 10 months
- An IID (Ignition Interlock Device) may be required depending on the countyNumbers provided by California DUI/DWI – Drunk Driving, Penalties, Fines & SR22
DHB did in fact plead not guilty, and I’m not sure how he intends to contest the two breathalyzer tests of 0.12 and 0.13. According to the Bay City News Service Heyward-Bey’s lawyer, Ivan Golde, sounds like he may have a shot at fighting this charge.
“After investigating all the procedures and all the chain of events, it appears not everything was done according to the rule of law, and there may be some questions that need to go before a jury,” Golde said.
I suspect that if DHB is not acquitted that he will have to miss the first few games of the 2012 season, as per NFL precedent. Or, it may just be swept under the carpet never to be heard of again even! Anything could happen in this league (or any league), where athletes with money can talk the talk and walk the walk… right on out of jail.
Sit tight, Raider fans – I’ll post an update once (or if) we get the news after July 23.
(Only 17 more days until training camp! )