McNair's attorney weighs in on DUI case

OWINGS MILLS -- Here's the latest information on Baltimore Ravens quarterback Steve McNair's pending DUI case:

OWINGS MILLS -- Baltimore Ravens quarterback Steve McNair's misdemeanor driving under the influence consent case has been scheduled for a pretrial settlement conference on May 30 in Nashville, Tenn.

McNair was arrested and charged early Thursday morning in Nashville on a DUI charge under a Tennessee ordinance that prohibits a vehicle owner from knowingly allowing his vehicle to be driven by someone who is intoxicated.

Jamie Cartwright, McNair's brother-in-law, was pulled over while driving McNair's 2003 Dodger silver pickup truck by officer Harold Taylor a few minutes before midnight Wednesday. Cartwright had a strong "odor of alcohol" with "red, glassy eyes," failed a field sobriety test and refused to take a Breathalyzer exam, according to law enforcement officials.

Now, McNair's attorney will seek to prove that the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback is innocent. The pretrial conference timing will likely cause McNair to miss the beginning of a voluntary three-day minicamp.

"It's a totally derivative case because Mr. McNair was arrested on the actions of another party, and he's sort of a victim of a unique law," said Nashville attorney Roger May, who represented McNair in a 2003 DUI case that was eventually dropped. "He wasn't doing anything wrong, and it wasn't anything he did or failed to do. It has nothing to do with his actions. It's all about the alleged intoxication of the driver."

Cartwright, 31, acknowledged that he had drunk at least two beers, according to a police report.

May, who doesn't represent Cartwright, emphasized that McNair's case could be affected heavily by the outcome of his brother-in-law's trial. The law McNair was charged under doesn't consider whether he was drinking, centering only on if the driver was impaired.

"I believe that if Mr. Cartwright's case is resolved favorably, then there's a good chance that Mr. McNair's case could just be dismissed," May said Friday afternoon of a case to be heard by Judge Bill Higgins.

The DUI consent law has been used by Nashville police to cite 43 people, including McNair, this year. According to Tennessee statute, the law can be applied to the owner of a vehicle whether the owner is in the vehicle or not during a DUI arrest.

Established in 1955, the law sustained a challenge before the state's Supreme Court in 1962.

In that case, a man claimed he was too intoxicated to know he was turning his car over to an inebriated friend. However, the court ruled that the man who allowed his friend to drive the car was criminally negligent as his friend killed a child while driving under the influence. "It's a strange law," May said. "Mr. McNair was arrested not because of his own actions. We're sort of along for the ride."

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

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