McNair DUI trial update

OWINGS MILLS -- Here's the latest information in Baltimore Ravens quarterback Steve McNair's misdemeanor DUI by consent case:

OWINGS MILLS -- Baltimore Ravens quarterback Steve McNair is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday afternoon in Nashville, Tenn., for a pretrial settlement conference in his misdemeanor driving under the influence by consent case, and at least two potential outcomes are regarded as most likely by his attorney.

Either the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback will be assigned a new court date, or the case could be dismissed depending on the status of his brother-in-law's pending DUI charge, according to McNair's attorney, Roger May.

Both defendants are on the same docket Wednesday afternoon before Judge William Higgins.

"We'll see if we can't get it resolved, and if it can't be resolved for whatever reason or they want more information, then the case will be reset for trial," said May, who successfully represented McNair in a 2003 DUI trial in Nashville where the case was dropped when a judge determined that police lacked sufficient evidence to pull him over. "If the driver's case is resolved favorably, then Steve's case is going to be dismissed. We're not in control of what's going to happen. We're just riding along."

May doesn't represent Cartwright, 31, who was pulled over earlier this month by officer Harold Taylor while driving McNair's 2003 Dodge silver pickup truck a few miles from the quarterback's Tennessee residence. As a passenger, McNair was arrested and charged under a Tennessee ordinance that prohibits a vehicle owner from knowingly allowing his vehicle to be driven by someone who is inebriated.

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 the police report Taylor filed following the May 10 arrest. It was never determined if McNair was drinking.

The affidavit filed by Taylor stated that after taking Cartwright into custody, he began to read him the Tennessee implied consent law, which Cartwright refused before the officer completed.

"I finished reading it and even did the 20-minute observation because the def. seem somewhat confused about taking the test," Taylor wrote in his report. "So after the 20 minutes were up, he still refused. He claimed that he refused because he wanted to help his co-defendant [McNair] and to keep him out of trouble."

Cartwright acknowledged that he had drunk at least two beers, according to the report. McNair and Cartwright were released on separate $1,000 bonds.

"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," May said. "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."

The DUI by consent law has been used by Nashville Metro police to cite 43 people this year, including McNair. Established in 1955, the law sustained a challenge before the Supreme Court seven years later.

The Ravens are scheduled to begin a three-day voluntary minicamp today at their training complex. McNair attended the team's first two minicamps.

"What happened in Tennessee is left in Tennessee," McNair said during his first press conference since being arrested. "My lawyer is going to deal with that. Right now, my main focus is coming out here, getting chemistry and getting the things I need to get done in preparation for training camp.

"We're going to let the legal process handle it. It's unfortunate, but things happen. I just got to go through it. But at the same time, it's not going to distract me from helping this team get to where we need to be."

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

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