Though the charge may prove to be either completely meritless or at least overblown, Eric Wright, a cornerback for the NFL’s Buccaneers and former USC great, was arrested on a felony DUI charge on Monday, reports the Los Angeles Times.
He is the second former USC football player to be slapped with a felony DUI charge in the last few months. (Go Bruins!)
Wright was operating his Mercedes SLS near the Staples Center on Monday when he ended up in a collision with a Chevy Silverado. The driver of the other car was supposedly injured, but refused medical treatment. Wright admitted to the police that he had been drinking earlier that day but refused to submit to a Breathalyzer or blood test.
Why the felony? A person can be tagged with a felony charge if either it is a repeat offense or if someone is injured in the DUI. Though Wright has had a couple of interactions with the LAPD, he was not charged with any crimes in those cases.
So, that leaves the injury aspect. The other driver was injured, but the injuries were not severe enough to warrant a trip to the hospital either. Then again, Wright was driving a Mercedes SLS; does anyone else smell a personal injury lawsuit coming on?
The felony DUI based on injury charge requires proof of two things. First, they must prove that he was under the influence. Second, they must prove that he did “any act forbidden by law, or neglect[ed] any duty imposed by law in driving the vehicle, which … cause[d] injury [to the other driver].”
Proving intoxication is still possible, even with the refused blood or breath test. The testimony of the officers on Wright’s state, speech patterns, and appearance of intoxication all could come into play, as will his confession to drinking earlier in the day. The refusal will, however, likely mean his driver’s license is suspended for a long time.
As for the negligent act element, they’ll have to show something along the lines of speeding or a running a stop sign. A mere alleged minor injury to the other driver is not enough; prosecutors must prove that Wright was doing something negligent or illegal.
- Consult a Los Angeles DUI Attorney (FindLaw)
- Eric Wright arrested on DUI charge (ESPN)
- Driving Under the Influence of God … and Probably Drugs Too (FindLaw’s Los Angeles DUI Blog)
- Too Fast, Too Furious: Woman Gets Backwards DUI (FindLaw’s Los Angeles DUI Blog)