McNair arrested, charged with DUI (UPDATED)

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Steve McNair was arrested on a driving under the influence charge early Thursday morning in Nashville for allowing his brother-in-law to drive his pickup truck while allegedly intoxicated, according to Tennessee police officials. McNair was a passenger in his 2003 Dodge silver pickup truck driven by Jamie Cartwright, 31, according to a police report.

Although McNair wasn't driving, the former Tennessee Titans star was charged with a misdemeanor under a Tennessee law ordinance that states that the owner of a vehicle can be charged if the driver is arrested for a DUI charge.

The owner can be charged even if he's not intoxicated or even in the car at the time. No information was released on whether McNair was impaired.

"I was trying to act responsibly," McNair said in a statement released by the team that noted that the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback had spoken with Ravens coach Brian Billick about the incident. "I have to go through the court process now, and I understand that. I was planning to be in Baltimore for most of the remainder of this month to work out with my teammates, and anticipate that I will be doing that."

According to a news release from the Nashville Metro police department, it's illegal in Tennessee for the owner of a vehicle to knowingly permit a driver to operate his car while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The law has been on the books in Tennessee since 1955, and a similar law exists in Michigan, Illinois and Arizona.

McNair, who's the 43rd person charged by Nashville Metro police under the statute this year, was released on $1,000 bond along with Cartwright after being booked downtown without incident, authorities said.

"We are aware of the situation involving Steve McNair," Ravens team president Dick Cass said in a statement. "We have talked with Steve and persons in Nashville familiar with what happened. We have also been briefed regarding the Tennessee law.

"We do know that Steve was a passenger in a car he owns that was stopped for speeding. Steve was not arrested for drinking, or driving the car irresponsibly. There is a court process that will now take place, and Steve will participate in these procedures."

It's undetermined if McNair will be punished by the league, which has expanded its personal conduct policy significantly under new commissioner Roger Goodell. However, team officials don't expect McNair to be suspended.

"Any law enforcement matter that involves any of our people, we look into it to determine whether there is ultimately any violation of our policies," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said, adding that it was too soon to determine if McNair will face sanctions from the league office.

The vehicle was stopped on Hillsboro Road at Abbott Martin Road five miles from downtown Nashville at 11:53 p.m. Wednesday night after DUI squad officer Harold Taylor recorded it at 45 mph in a 35 mph zone, according to a police report.

According to Taylor's report, the officer detected a "obvious odor of alcohol" when he approached Cartwright and observed that the driver's eyes were "red and glassy."

Cartwright admitted to drinking at least two beers earlier in the evening and didn't pass a field sobriety test. Cartwright refused to take a Breathalyzer exam, according to the police report.

Wearing a brown T-shirt and jeans, McNair didn't comment to television reporters when he was released from central booking early Thursday morning.

McNair has had one previous DUI, being arrested in Nashville in May of 2003 on charges of driving under the influence and illegal gun possession. The charges were later dismissed after a judge threw out the evidence, citing that there wasn't sufficent reason for the police to pull McNair over. The gun was registered legally.

The former NFL Co-Most Valuable Player led the Ravens to an AFC North title and a franchise-record 13-3 record during his first season with the team. McNair threw for 3,050 yards, 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions last season.

Meanwhile, return specialist B.J. Sams was arrested and charged with DUI on Oct. 3, his second DUI charge since joining the Ravens, and is scheduled to appear in Towson district court next Tuesday.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland.

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