- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 6, 2001

Washington Wizards forward Michael Smith was arrested in Virginia Sunday morning and charged with driving while intoxicated. The arrest is Smith's second in a little more than a month. Smith was arrested on Jan. 1 for his involvement in a New Year's Eve altercation at a District of Columbia nightclub.

According to the police report, a Fairfax County helicopter officer saw the 28-year-old Smith driving his 1997 Mercedes Benz in a reckless fashion southbound on I-395 near Franconia Road in Fairfax County. The operator of the helicopter, recognizing that the driver could endanger himself and other vehicles, radioed ahead to a police car that pulled Smith over. Smith was asked by the arresting officer to step out of his automobile and perform the prerequisite field-sobriety tests. Smith did not perform the tests to the satisfaction of the officers.

As a result, Smith, who was alone in the vehicle, was arrested at 1:45 a.m. and charged with a misdemeanor offense of DWI. According to police spokesman officer Jody Donaldson, Smith was held at an adult detention center in Fairfax and released later that morning on $2,500 unsecured bond. Another police spokesman, Thomas Harrington, said Smith failed a breathalyzer test at the county jail, but Harrington would not release Smith's blood alcohol level.

No trial date has been set for Smith's DWI arrest, but he will have a preliminary hearing soon. At that point it will be determined if a trial is necessary or if the charge will be thrown out. He is scheduled to appear in court concerning his role in the New Year's Eve fight at Zanzibar in May.

Smith was at practice yesterday as the Wizards made preparations for tomorrow's game at Orlando. It will be the team's final game before the All-Star break. He said little about the most recent charges.

"When that time comes I'll deal with it." he said. "For now we've got one more game before the All-Star break. Then we've got a few games after the break. When that time comes I'll deal with it right there and then."

Smith's agent, Jeff Harding, also chose not to comment on the matter. Calls placed to Wizards management were not returned.

Smith, a starter at power forward for most of last season, lost his position this season when the Wizards moved Juwan Howard to power forward. However, the Wizards have since moved Howard back to small forward and Smith has started at power forward in the last nine games. Smith averages 3.2 points a game and six rebounds in more than 17 minutes. In the team's most recent game, a 105-100 loss to Denver, Smith pulled down a season-high 16 rebounds.

Smith's recent run-ins with the law come as somewhat of a surprise to those familiar with the player. A graduate of Dunbar High School, Smith purchases a block of at least 50 tickets for District residents at each game. Smith also funds a peewee football program in Northwest which last summer sent a team to Florida.

In compiling their Atlantic Division-worst 12-36 record, the Wizards' season has been rife with run-ins with the law. Point guard Rod Strickland was arrested last month in Virginia for driving under the influence and faces an April 3 trial. Strickland was arrested last November for a misdemeanor charge of unlawful entry when he refused to leave the Republic Gardens nightclub. Those charges were dropped.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report

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