Michael Phelps, 29, the US. Olympic swimmer who holds 22 total medals (18 gold), has been charged for a second time with DWI and traffic infractions. In the early morning hours of September 30, 2014, Mr. Phelps was observed by a Maryland Transit Authority officer near Baltimore allegedly travelling at 84 miles per hour in a 45 m.p.h. zone in his 2014 Land Rover. Phelps apparently also changed lanes across double lines in the Fort McHenry Tunnel.
When the officer stopped Phelps’ vehicle, he requested that he take the standardized field sobriety tests, which Phelps was unable to successfully complete according to news reports. After taking a breathalyzer, his blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was found to be 0.14%, well in excess of the 0.08% legal limit for DWI in Maryland.
Phelps faces three charges: driving while under the influence of alcohol, “excessive speeding”, and crossing double lines in a tunnel. Back in March of 2004, when Mr. Phelps was 19 years old, he was charged with DWI, DUI, and failing to obey a stop sign. In the 2004 case, Phelps was able to get the charges reduced and was sentenced to a fine of $250.00, and given probation for 18 months.
In New York, if Mr. Phelps was charged with the crime of DWI after previously being convicted of a traffic infraction as is a DWAI, he would not be eligible for a reduction to the DWAI a second time. Further, in New York, if a driver is charged with a DWI after previously pleading guilty to, or being convicted at trial of a DWI within 10 years, the second DWI in ten years would be charged as a felony without the possibility of a plea reduction.
If Mr. Phelps had received the DWI charge in New York, and was convicted or pled guilty to the charge, he would be required to install an ignition interlock (IID) in his vehicle. With an IID, a driver cannot start his or her vehicle without blowing into the device with alcohol free breath, and he or she must continue blowing into the device on set intervals to keep the engine running. A driver who fails to install the device, tampers with the IID, blows into the IID with alcohol on his or her breath, or attempts to have someone else blow into the device, can be charged with another misdemeanor, as can the person who improperly blew into the IID for the sentenced person.
A New York driver convicted of a DWI must also be evaluated and potentially treated for alcohol or drug abuse; attend a session of the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Victim’s Impact Panel; attend the New York State DMV mandated Drinking Driver Program, pay Court fines and fees, and pay the State of New York a $750.00 fine known as a “Driver’s Responsibility Assessment”, which was instituted in 2004 for all driving and driving offenses, from the lowest level DWAI, through a felony DWI.
USA swimming has announced that they are suspending Phelps for six months and requiring that he withdraw from next year’s world championships. Mr. Phelps has announced that he intends to go into treatment before a Court orders him to do so, and will take a hiatus from preparing for another Olympics appearance in 2016.
If you are charged with a DWI, DWAI, felony DWI under Leandra’s Law, refusing to take a chemical test, or any crime or traffic infraction, contact the experienced criminal defense litigators at the Law Office of Mark A. Siesel online or toll free at (914) 428-7386 for a free consultation to discuss your rights and legal options.