McNair DUI case delayed until July 10

OWINGS MILLS -- Baltimore Ravens quarterback Steve McNair's driving under the influence by consent case was continued until July 10 after the district attorney decided to reconsider a settlement agreement offer where the misdemeanor charge against McNair would have been immediately dismissed, according to McNair's attorney.

Under the terms of that brokered deal, which was initially reported as finalized by two Nashville, Tenn., court officials along with the court's official Web site Wednesday afternoon following the pretrial settlement conference, McNair would have been dropped from the case immediately.

Jamie Cartwright, McNair's brother-in-law and co-defendant who was charged with DUI on May 10 while driving the quarterback's silver 2003 Dodge pickup truck, was scheduled to plead guilty to a reduced charge of reckless driving.

Under the agreement, he would have received a six-month jail sentence with all but two days suspended, six months of supervised probation, be required to complete an alcohol safety course and pay a $350 fine.

With no deal struck, though, both defendants are currently scheduled to appear July 10 in a preliminary hearing.

"We thought we had the case resolved, which is what Steve wanted," Roger May, McNair's attorney, said in a telephone interview. "It was going fine, and then they decided to reset it. The district attorney wanted to look at some aspect of the case. I'm not sure what.

"I don't think this changes Steve's position in the case. Yes, it's disappointing, but we're still confident that he will ultimately prevail." Cartwright's attorney, Ed Ryan, said the offer was not formally revoked, emphasizing that the district attorney wanted more time to look at the case.

Now, McNair, who didn't appear in court under an agreement with prosecutors, will likely have to wait to resolve the situation. The case will still be heard by Judge William Higgins, who presided over Wednesday's settlement docket.

Higgins' law clerk said in a telephone interview that the paperwork for the agreement had been drafted and was scheduled to be formally processed until the prosecutor's office opted to not sign off on the deal.

"The paperwork had been drafted to dismiss the case against Mr. McNair, but the district attorney wanted more time to look at it," the court spokesman said. "So, both cases remain pending and open."

Cartwright, who acknowledged drinking a few beers and had "red, glassy eyes" with a "strong odor of alcohol," failed a field sobriety test and refused to take a Breathalyzer exam according to a police report, appeared in court briefly. Cartwright was pulled over for driving 45 mph in a 35 mph zone.

McNair was charged under a Tennessee ordinance that prohibits the owner of a vehicle from knowingly allowing someone to drive the car while inebriated. Established in 1955, the law upheld a 1962 challenge before the Tennessee state Supreme Court.

McNair is the 43rd person charged with DUI by consent, which carries the same potential penalties as a DUI charge, this year by Nashville police.

McNair was arrested on DUI and illegal gun possession charges in Nashville in 2003. After over a year, a judge threw out the case following a ruling that police didn't have sufficient cause to pull the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback over.

NOTE: The Ravens will continue a three-day minicamp today at their training complex, and cornerbacks Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle are scheduled to speak with reporters along with linebacker Jarret Johnson and defensive coordinator Rex Ryan.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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