- The Washington Times - Friday, May 30, 2003

Washington Redskins defensive tackle Jermaine Haley could miss the Sept.4 season opener against the New York Jets after being arrested Sunday night for DUI with property damage in Miami Beach, Fla.

A conviction for Haley, who signed a four-year, $4million contract two months ago, would be the second for DUI since he entered the NFL in 2000. The league’s substance abuse policy dictates that second convictions result in “likely” suspensions.

The length of the suspension is at the discretion of commissioner Paul Tagliabue, with the player’s prior record taken into account. Haley’s prior record includes several red flags that could cost him a more lengthy absence.

Records at the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) show that Haley was convicted of DUI in August 2001. He also was convicted of driving 57 mph in a 30 mph zone in November 2002 and of driving 82 mph in a 55 mph zone Feb.13. The latter instance also included a conviction for driving while his license was revoked or suspended.

In addition, Haley was arrested for obstructing justice on March3, 2001, according to the Miami-Dade Police Department. However, prosecutors ultimately did not take that case to court.

An NFL spokesman refused to comment on Haley’s case, in accordance with league policy. Questions were referred to the substance abuse policy, which states that convictions for first offenses generally result in a fine of half a game check and convictions for second offenses generally mean a suspension.

The Redskins also declined comment.

The timing of Haley’s court date was unclear yesterday. His attorney, Adam Swickle, did not return a phone message.

Haley, 30, signed with the Redskins on April25 after spending his first three NFL seasons with the Miami Dolphins. A restricted free agent, he became a Redskin after the Dolphins declined to match Washington’s offer sheet. He is one of 15 new veterans the Redskins have acquired in an aggressive offseason.

A suspension would have a significant on-field impact. The Redskins’ biggest question remains the defensive line, which lost standout Daryl Gardener to Denver. Haley, a capable run stuffer, was signed to play in a regular rotation with starters Brandon Noble and Dan Wilkinson. Del Cowsette currently would be expected to get Haley’s snaps.

The arrest took place at about 11 Sunday night, according to the police report. Haley was driving southbound in a black Land Rover on Ocean Drive. He crossed the center of Ocean Drive after passing Eighth Street and struck a 1995 Honda. He did not stop and was pulled over by a pair of officers who witnessed the accident.

The report said Haley’s speech was “very slurred.” He did not have the car’s registration. He “vigorously” denied being in an accident. He stumbled and fell as he got out of the car, and there was a “strong odor” of alcohol on him. He claimed he had had a few beers but wasn’t drunk.

The police attempted to administer a field sobriety test, the report said, but a crowd had begun to gather. Haley was sent to the police station and along the way became belligerent, at one point cursing the officers and telling them he wouldn’t perform any sobriety tests.

He ultimately refused to take a field sobriety test, and a police spokesman said it appeared as though Haley refused the blood-alcohol test as well. The latter would result in an automatic license suspension, though Haley already has had several license suspensions, according to the DHSMV.

Haley was the second Redskins defensive lineman this offseason to be arrested for DUI, following the April27 arrest of defensive end Bruce Smith in Virginia Beach. Smith, however, passed at least one of two field sobriety tests and, according to his attorney, Lawrence Cardon, the blood-alcohol test, as well. Smith also wasn’t driving erratically and was cooperative with police.

Smith’s case is scheduled to go to trial Wednesday. Cardon reiterated yesterday that he is confident the charges will be dismissed.

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