Ga. police release details on Hines Ward's DUI arrest
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Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward had bloodshot eyes, stumbled through the alphabet, couldn't keep his balance and smelled strongly of alcohol when officers charged him with drunken driving in Atlanta on Saturday, according to a police report that offered new details into the early morning arrest.
Mr. Ward failed a series of field sobriety tests administered by DeKalb County police Officer Robert Catalano, who wrote in the report that he "swayed back and forth and was getting agitated while conducting the evaluation." The field sobriety test also included a "one leg stand" and the "walk and turn" test.
"Mr. Ward could not keep his balance and started before instructed several times," the officer wrote. "He missed heel to toe, stepped off line, and conducted an improper turn."
The report says he "mixed up and omitted letters" when asked to recite part of the alphabet, and he consented to a portable breath test at the scene, which confirmed the presence of alcohol. The portable test -- the Alco-Sensor FST -- showed a reading of 0.128, well above the legal limit of 0.08. Such portable tests do not measure blood-alcohol content as accurately as a Breathalyzer does and are not admissible in court, police spokeswoman Mekka Parish said.
Mr. Ward, 35, refused to take the state-administered Breathalyzer, which could result in a suspension of his driver's license regardless of the outcome of his case.
He was charged with of driving under the influence of alcohol, a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Mr. Ward's agent, Andrew Ree, issued a statement after this arrest saying the former Super Bowl MVP and "Dancing With the Stars" champ was "NOT impaired by alcohol while driving." He declined to comment further on Monday.
Mr. Ward, whose eyes were "bloodshot and glassy," told Officer Catalano he had two bottles of Corona at a bar in Atlanta's Buckhead district about three hours before the traffic stop.
About 2:10 a.m., an officer with the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority watched Mr. Ward's gray, 2009 Aston Martin, with Pennsylvania license plates that read "OOOHWEE," swerve and strike a curb. Suspecting a drunken driver, the transit officer followed the car, and saw the driver change lanes several times without using turn signals before he pulled the car over.
The transit officer, too, noticed "a strong odor of alcoholic beverage coming off the driver's person," and mentioned his "flush face" and eyes that were "bloodshot red," before Officer Catalano, a member of the county police DUI task force, arrived and also spoke with Mr. Ward.
Officer Catalano noted that Mr. Ward mumbled, and a report described him as defensive and inattentive but also cooperative during their interaction. Police allowed Mr. Ward's passenger, Cory Allen, a fellow former University of Georgia Bulldog, to take the Aston Martin while Mr. Ward was in the county jail. He was released on $1,000 bond.
Mr. Allen couldn't be reached for comment.
Mr. Rees would not say who would be representing Mr. Ward on his drunken driving charge. Steelers spokesman Burt Lauten had no comment, and NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said only, "Any such incident will be reviewed when the players return" from the current lockout.
Under the NFL's substance abuse policy, a first-offense DUI without aggravating circumstances results in a fine of half of a regular-season game check up to a maximum of $50,000.
Mr. Ward, who played football at the University of Georgia and owns a home in the Atlanta area, has not commented on the arrest on his Twitter or Facebook page, where comments amassed by the thousands.
"Can't recite the alphabet? Blew an unofficial breath test. Time to take it like a man. Admit your mistake. Apologize. Learn from it and move on," one Facebook poster wrote.
"You are still my favorite Steeler!!" another posted. "Keep that wonderful smile going. You will get through this."
First Published July 12, 2011 12:00 am