Tank Johnson, the troubled Chicago Bears player, will not be charged following his DUI arrest in Gilbert, Ariz. A blood test showed Johnson to have a blood alcohol level of 0.072 percent, slightly below Arizona’s presumptive BAC level of 0.08 percent.
Johnson had been suspended for the first eight games of the upcoming NFL season. The Bears waived him following his DUI arrest. Johnson could still have been charged with DUI, regardless of a BAC below the presumptive level.
Arizona’s DUI law states that is unlawful for someone to drive “if the person is impaired to the slightest degree.” ARS 28-1381(A)(1).
The Associated Press reported that Gilbert police spokesman Sgt. Andrew Duncan declined to elaborate on the reason for not charging Johnson in the matter.
The Chicago Tribune’s Headline that former Bears’ player “Tank Johnson wasn’t legally drunk” when he was arrested for DUI in Gilbert Arizona isn’t quite right. Johnson was waived by the Bears following his arrest. He has already served time in jail on gun charges and was suspended by the NFL for the first eight games of the upcoming season.
The Tribune reports that Johnson’s blood alcohol level was 0.072 percent, below the presumptive level of 0.08 percent. Charges have yet to be filed in the matter.
It is a common misunderstanding that a driver is only DUI if his BAC is at least 0.08 percent. This is untrue. Johnson was charged under Arizona’s DUI law which states that is unlawful for someone to drive “if the person is impaired to the slightest degree.” ARS 28-1381(A)(1).
Every state has a presumptive BAC of 0.08 percent. When a driver has a BAC above the presumptive level, the burden of proof switches from the government to the accused.
A judge or jury, in a DUI case, is instructed to take a BAC above 0.08 percent as proof that a driver was DUI. The defendant must prove something was wrong with the breath or blood test.
For the Tribune, and other media outlets, to indicate that Johnson was not DUI aids to the common misconception. If Johnson is not charged with DUI, it will be because the prosecutor believes the testimony of the arresting officer will not be enough, without a presumptive BAC, to convince a jury Johnson was DUI.
After being arrested for “DUI Impaired to the Slightest Degree” early last Friday morning in Arizona, defensive lineman Terry “Tank” Johnson was released by the Chicago Bears today.
Johnson had vowed in May that he was a changed man after spending two months in jail for violating probation on a gun charge. Johnson was already facing an eight-game suspension for the start of the next season and may now have very well put his career –at least in the NFL–in severe jeopardy.
Johnson was pulled over for going 40 mph in a 25 mph zone in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert on June 22nd. Officers suspected that Johnson was impaired, and a cooperative Johnson submitted a blood test for his BAC.
While those results aren’t expected for two weeks, the Bears’ organization didn’t need to wait for the results to get rid of Johnson after supporting him under much criticism during the last seven months.
The end of Johnson’s run as a Chicago Bear comes after a long line of embarrassing incidents. Police raided Johnson’s home last December and found six unregistered firearms, some of which were in the vicinity of Johnson’s young children.
After expressing contrition for this arrest (which violated an earlier gun charge), Johnson found himself in more trouble some two days later. His bodyguard, Willie B. Posey, was gunned down and killed during a fight at a Chicago nightclub that he and Johnson were frequenting. Johnson was suspended for one game by the Bears for the incident but returned to the team during its Super Bowl run.
Chicago general manager Jerry Angelo said today that Johnson’s recent DUI arrest “compromised the credibility of our organization.” Head Coach Lovie Smith was described in a prepared statement as saying that Johnson did not live up to his side of the deal with the organization. Johnson was drafted by the Bears in the second round of the 2003 draft out of the University of Washington.