McNair's lawyer expresses confidence

OWINGS MILLS -- The attorney for Baltimore Ravens quarterback Steve McNair remains optimistic that the NFL star's misdemeanor driving under the influence by consent charge will be dismissed Tuesday morning, a legal scenario that hinges on the outcome of another defendant's case.

If a driving under the influence charge against McNair's brother-in-law, Jamie Cartwright, is reduced to reckless driving with a plea bargain in Nashville, Tenn., then McNair's case would be automatically thrown out, according to Roger May, McNair's attorney.

"I feel very good about the case being resolved favorably for Mr. McNair, because I think there's a very high probability that the case with the driver will get worked out," May said Monday afternoon in a telephone interview. "With this being a totally derivative case, what happens to Mr. McNair's case depends on the status of the driver's case. Mr. McNair is just following along with Mr. Cartwright's case, and I hope everything will work out."

McNair was nearly dismissed from the case May 30 during plea agreement negotiations between Cartwright's attorney, Edward S. Ryan, and court officials at a pretrial settlement conference. Cartwright was prepared to plead guilty to reckless driving.

Under the brokered agreement, Cartwright, who was driving the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback's silver 2003 Dodge pickup truck when they were arrested May 9, 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.

However, the district attorney decided to review the agreement, which delayed both cases from being heard until Tuesday.

The proposed deal was prematurely announced as finalized by two clerks of the court and the court's official Web site. May said he wasn't told why the agreement wasn't struck in May with the prosecutor's office.

Ryan has repeatedly said that the offer wasn't formally withdrawn, leaving open the possibility that Cartwright could wind up with an identical or similar deal in court Tuesday.

"I don't anticipate anything changing," May said. "We're still very confident that this will be resolved."

McNair was charged under a Tennessee ordinance established in 1955 that prohibits a car's owner from knowingly allowing it to be driven by someone who's intoxicated.

Cartwright was charged with DUI after a traffic stop where he was pulled over for allegedly driving 45 mph in a 35-mph zone.

Cartwright acknowledged drinking a few beers and refused to take a Breathalyzer exam, according to the arresting officer. He allegedly failed a field sobriety test and had "red, glassy eyes" with a "strong odor of alcohol, according to a police report.

The case will be heard by Judge William Higgins, who presided over the May settlement conference.

McNair was arrested on DUI and illegal gun possession charges in Nashville in 2003, a case that was thrown out over a year later under a judge's ruling.

"What happened in Tennessee is left in Tennessee," McNair said in May at the Ravens' training complex in his only comments on the situation. "My lawyer is going to deal with that.

"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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