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OWINGS MILLS — The attorney for Baltimore Ravens quarterback Steve McNair remains optimistic that the NFL starâ€™s misdemeanor driving under the influence by consent charge will be dismissed today, a legal scenario that hinges on the outcome of another defendant’s case.
If a driving under the influence charge against McNairâ€™s brother-in-law, Jamie Cartwright, is reduced to reckless driving with a plea bargain today in Nashville, Tenn., then McNairâ€™s case would be automatically thrown out, according to Roger May, McNairâ€™s attorney.
â€œI feel very good about the case being resolved favorably for Mr. McNair, because I think thereâ€™s a very high probability that the case with the driver will get worked out,â€ May said Monday afternoon in a telephone interview. â€œWith this being a totally derivative case, what happens to Mr. McNair’s case depends on the status of the driverâ€™s case. Mr. McNair is just following along with Mr. Cartwrightâ€™s case, and I hope everything will work out.â€
McNair was nearly dismissed from the case May 30 during plea agreement negotiations between Cartwrightâ€™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 quarterbackâ€™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 today.
The proposed deal was prematurely announced as finalized by two clerks of the court and the courtâ€™s official Web site. May said he wasnâ€™t told why the agreement wasnâ€™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Ryan has repeatedly said that the offer wasn’t formally withdrawn, leaving open the possibility that Cartwright could wind up with an identical or similar deal in court today.
â€œI donâ€™t anticipate anything changing,â€ May said. â€œWeâ€™re still very confident that this will be resolved.â€
McNair was charged under a Tennessee ordinance established in 1955 that prohibits a carâ€™s owner from knowingly allowing it to be driven by someone whoâ€™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 â€œred, glassy eyesâ€ with a â€œstrong 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.
â€œWhat happened in Tennessee is left in Tennessee," McNair said in May at the Ravensâ€™ 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 and the Annapolis Capital.