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Football star's drunk driving arrest raises questions

Football fans in Baltimore are certainly excited that the Ravens are headed to the Super Bowl. Although the team can celebrate a very successful season -- no matter the result of the big game -- one professional football player is dealing with difficulties off the field. Recently, Jay Ratliff of the Cowboys was arrested on suspicion of DWI.

The arrest was made shortly after a police officer responded to a traffic accident. Ratliff's pickup truck collided with a tractor-trailer and a guardrail; however, the arresting officer noted that the football star "did not initially show signs of intoxication." In fact, the officer said that Ratliff was quite mobile in the aftermath of the accident.

So, why did the officer believe the football player might be intoxicated? He stated that car accidents during the evening hours often involve drunk drivers, so it seemed like a natural thing to do. This should lead many to wonder whether or not the cop had sufficient probable cause to perform the tests and arrest Ratliff.

Reports indicate that the defensive lineman failed the field sobriety test and refused to take a Breathalyzer test when he arrived at the police station. However, the "one-leg stand portions" of the field test could have been impacted by football-related injuries, and the officer failed to ask the man if he had any prior injuries or medical conditions that could skew the test.

Although police eventually obtained a blood sample, there are still a number of questions that must be answered as the criminal trial proceeds. If the police officer did not have sufficient cause to before proceeding with the tests and arrest, then any evidence obtained as a result could be invalidated. Ultimately, it will be in the hands of the court to determine what evidence can be used by prosecutors.

Source: KHOU News, "Documents: Officer initially didn't think Ratliff was intoxicated," Josh Davis, Jan. 23, 2013

  • Sorting through the details of a drunk driving arrest can be a complicated process. To learn more about responding to these serious charges, please see our Maryland DUI page.

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