Beefed-up DUI penalties would deter NFL drunk driving

Earlier today, I argued that the league, the teams, and the NFLPA need to come together to solve the nagging problem of drunk driving by pro football players.

Though several of you correctly have pointed out that employers can do only so much to control the behavior of employees, the NFL can deter DUI incidents by dramatically increasing the punishment.

Currently, a first offense results in a fine equivalent to two game checks, barring aggravating circumstances.  Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the league has pushed hard for a two-game suspension for a first offense, but the union has resisted.  The source said that the parties had agreed to a one-game suspension plus a one-game fine last year for a first offense, but the finalization of that agreement has been bogged down by the parties’ inability to agree to the procedures for HGH testing.

Though the union should be protecting its players, why protect those who drive drunk?  As we learned today, the victims of drunk driving by members of the NFLPA can include other members of the NFLPA.  Maybe that tragedy will prompt enough members of the union to push leadership to agree to stiffer penalties.

The path to eliminating drunk driving from the NFL comes from eliminating those who drive drunk from the NFL.  We’ve previously argued that a first offense should result in a one-year suspension.  Harsh?  Yes.  But it would likely ensure that players will make the no-questions-asked call for a ride home if they are drunk.

If also would prompt teams like the Cowboys to shy away from bringing in to the local community players who have a history of driving drunk.

59 responses to “Beefed-up DUI penalties would deter NFL drunk driving

  1. When I was in the Navy, I made the foolish, dangerous decision to get in a vehicle after drinking, and it cost me my eight year career. The small silver lining is that I like to think that at least one junior person learned from my mistake.

    Moral of the story, drink and drive, out of the league. See how many players are banned for life before others get the hint.

  2. If they’re not deterred by the possibility of killing themselves or others, they’re not likely to be deterred by an increase in punishment from the NFL.

  3. You have to admit, no one would do it if the penalty was a one-year suspension. I’ve been suggesting 8-game suspensions on here, but one-year is fine with me too. Even if it’s a player from my team.

  4. For players with a propensity for the nightlife, their first priority as an NFL player should be getting a vasectomy. The second smart move on the list would be to not own a car.

    There you have it. Not much else can go wrong with those two time bombs removed from the realm of possibilities.

  5. The best way to reduce NFL drunk driving is education on alcohol and counceling. Alcohol is one of the worst drugs. If players really understood the potential dangers of alcohol I think it would make a difference. Alcohol can break down muscles, weaken bones..a athlete should not be drinking…..period. America doesn’t tell you its a dangerous drug because it’s a billion dollar industry.

  6. What needs to happen is the courts need to stop protecting the players. They’ll learn soon enough when they start getting treated like all of us.

  7. If the possibility of killing someone isn’t a strong enough deterrent then I doubt missing a couple games will Fo the trick. I’m all for punishing drunk drivers, but the only thing the NFL can do is increase consequences. They will never be able to stop someone from doing what they want to do.

    Stop pretending like anything will stop people from making bad choices.

  8. Would anyone on here, including those posters who may be police or firemen, or any other walk of life being suspended without pay for ONE YEAR after a first time DUI? Anyone? Anyone? I know I wouldn’t be.

    Would the writer of this article be suspended from his job for one year for a FIRST TIME DUI? No?

    These players aren’t doctors, or lawyers, or teachers, or clergy, they’re athletes. How in the world do you justify holding them to a higher standard than other person in any other profession in our entire society?


  9. Let’s not forget that owners have the unilateral authority to do exactly this. Nfl contracts are not guaranteed, any team could simply cut the guilty player. Problem is some other opportunistic owner would simply hire the guilty player as soon as he cleared waivers. The league doesn’t want enforcement any more than the nflpa.

  10. First offense for DUI should be a four game suspension, the second a eight game suspension and the third at least one year.

    If someone gets seriously hurt or dies, then an indefinite suspension, possibly a lifetime ban.

  11. “But it would likely ensure that players will make the no-questions-asked call for a ride home if they are drunk”

    Not how it works, not proud, but as a drinker that used to drive when it came time to go home concerning myself with getting home was the last thing on my mind. The quickest way home is the best, get in my car and go. Woke up one day realizing what I was putting at risk and never have again.

    Then you have issues with players wanting to skip out on their wives/gf’s and don’t want witnesses (ie car services and chauffers).

    Harsh penalty I believe is the only way, unfortunately this guy will be learning that lesson the very hard way.

  12. Teams should provide drivers to players who want to go clubbing – either at the player’s expense or the team’s.

    Trusting anyone to make a rational decision when drunk is not a good idea no matter how much money is on the line. Surely most of us can remember making bad decisions after 6 or 8 or 10 beers while in college. Best to try to get people to make good choices when sober and if it seems free to them (even if they are being “taxed” to pay for it) they are more likely to do so.

  13. Lots of people drive drunk, not just NFL players. I wonder what the stats are comparing the NFL population to the general population. I bet we are worse than NFL players. I don’t think they should be held to a higher standard.
    Also, deterrents don’t necessarily work for drinking violations because alcohol relaxes inhibitions – including considering consequences. Let’s just leave the rules as they are for a minute, please.

  14. The measure of a union or an employer is how they care for their members. Will they help when those in their ranks have family issues, substance abuse problems and the like?

    No easy answers here. No quick fixes. Tragedies such as we have seen the last two weeks require more than increased punishments. Try to reach the players before they are reach the tipping point. Only changing the team culture/dynamic will accomplish that.

    It starts by treating players like people and not commodities or romanticizing them as gladiators.

  15. You missed point of prior posts completely. Employers should leave law enforcement to those the public has already entrusted with that function.

  16. Would have been cool to have my employer pick up my costs on transportation to and from bars back when I was in that scene.

  17. OK i just read the story, and the dude was charged with manslaughter-which means that he chose to drink and drive even though he knew it carried felony charges of manslaughter….but you think it was the lack of penalty that caused him to drink and drive?……COME ON, MAN.

  18. toledoohoh says:
    Dec 8, 2012 6:11 PM
    If they’re not deterred by the possibility of killing themselves or others, they’re not likely to be deterred by an increase in punishment from the NFL.

    The sad thing about this is that these players are so self-centered it probably will deter them…

  19. I still don’t know why these idiots don’t pay for a cab or limo. I mean, I’ve shared cabs because I’ve drank too much and I don’t make anywhere near as much $ as these guys….

  20. Nice little dig at the cowboys there, instead of just saying teams. I understand that my ‘boys aren’t the best run organization, but this is an NFL wide problem. Thanks to your handy link in the days without an arrest meter, let me run down other teams listed (this may also knock some of the fans of other teams off their high horses)- Steelers, Falcons, Titans, Seahawks, Lions, Giants, Jaguars, Vikings, Rams, Chiefs, Raiders, Broncos, 49ers….and that’s just since Jan 12, and only alcohol related. Its a league problem, not a particular team.

  21. It is time to step it up. With the exception of undrafted practice squad rookies and perenial backup journeymen almost any of these guys can afford a cab if not a limo to go ANYWHERE they want to. It’s stupid and irresponsible not only for the safety of others (which is much more important than football) and their career to jepoardize that by drunk driving. Your time in the spot light can be very short……

  22. The thing is, when you are drunk you are usually not making a rational decision or considering the consequences. By definition you are at a reduced capacity to reason…so I just don’t think stiffer fines or suspensions will matter.

  23. How many times has an NFL player been arrested for DUI, and it turns into something of a joke? The fans turn it into just another pissing contest to get one over on fans of the player who got arrested, someone tells Florio to reset the arrest meter, there’s some speculation of what the fine/suspension will be and how it will impact that player’s team, and then, everything goes back to business as usual…until the next idiot drinks too much and gets behind the wheel, at which point we go through it all again.

    There are always some warnings that something worse could have happened, but that bullet has been dodged during the age of 24/7 sports news overexposure. Nobody dodged this one. This is the object lesson that no one ever wanted to happen, but really, given the way the arrests roll in one after another after another over the weeks and months and years, was inevitable.

    Stronger penalties for current players are one deterrent, but maybe this needs to go further. Maybe the league needs to establish a rule whereby if someone is convicted of DUI even before they come out of college, they aren’t eligible to be drafted for 2-3 years after the conviction, and will be on some form of probation when they are allowed into the league. Maybe that will get it through some peoples’ heads that they can’t do whatever the hell they want in college and not have it affect their ability make millions once they decide to leave school, and maybe it will make teams think twice before risking a pick on a guy like Justin Blackmon.

    Increased penalties are harsh. Having to bury a young athlete with his life ahead of him is infinitely harsher.

  24. The point is not that employers pay for the actions of their employees. Every individual is responsible for their own actions.

    It is that they care enough not to simply cut loose a less “valuable” employee when their actions show that they need help. Or that they do not ignore it in the case of a more “valuable” employee.

    Employers and unions can at least confront the problem. If the employee wants to be helped, provide it. If they don’t, so be it.

    This approach needs to start before they are employed, by the way. When in high school and college, for instance.

  25. Another union sticking up for the bad apples (drunk drivers) at the expense of the good apples. Thereby making football players look like they are unable to control themselves unless they are on the football field or in some football related activity.

    Correct me if I am wrong but most teams provide a cab service for players who feel they have had too much to drink.

  26. I was really saddened to see this story when I read it midday today.

    I understand how professional players love to show up to bars and clubs out front in their expensive “whips”. You know what…do that, make your appearance. Pay one of your sober “dudes” to stay sober and drive your ass home. If not, for christsakes cab it…..

  27. NFL players, making the kind of money they do, should be held to a much higher standard than the average person. Particularly when it comes to using drugs, such as alcohol and then operating a motor vehicle.
    As a CDL driver, I am, and I don’t make millions annually. But I cannot be caught with even the smell of alcohol on my breath while operating a motor vehicle, lest I lose my license and my ability to earn a living along with it.
    I have a hard time believing anyone in this age, would drink and drive. Education is NOT the answer. Some folks don’t have the ability to learn. The NFL should have a zero tolerance policy for the prima donnas making over a half million per game plus. Get caught, and yer out. For the season with no pay. Simple as that.

  28. I’m sorry to say, without knowing your politics, this is taking an already socialist style system the leagues has and turning it into a communist dictatorship. Now the league has this right but we’re being very naive when reacting to these issues. Which is what leads me to believe the writing are coming from a very liberal, dare I say socialist oriented person. There is less drunk driving cases in the NFL per capita than in the USA which was close to 20% last year. Even the lowest reported incidents reported by states was 2.9% which is still higher than the NFL. There is always going to be a “Do Gooder” that will take the opportunity to get on their high horse and preach out of their rear end( similar to B. Costas anti-gun rambling). Why not take a moment to research and reflex on the reality of the NFL’s situation, their rather clean record, considering and acknowledge that things are run pretty well. Not every unfortunate story is an opportunity for you and NBC to make money. Which is what PFT is doing by posting up so many different stories about this incident. With that said, I believe in Capitalism, I believe in your right to presume your wealth and riches and understand that posting on this subject is a path to that goal but if your are going to preach a socialist ideal, while attempting to capitalize, at least understand your own hypocrisy. I leave with this typical quote, “Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.”, Ayn Rand

  29. Sadly, probably not. They already have the deterrent of possible death and jail time, I don’t think a big fine or suspensions is really going to do it.

    Everybody here I’m sure has that one friend that always ALWAYS insists he’s good to drive when he’s drunk, and you have to take his keys.

    Some people are just like that when drunk. If they know that, they should arrange for a way home ahead of time and make sure somebody else has the keys, or not drink.

    They already have free rides, and more to live for than most people, yet it still happens. Nothing really can deter it. Sometimes people just have to take responsibility for themselves.

  30. My proposal would be the following:

    If the player gets a DUI conviction through a guilty plea or is found guilty of it he is suspended for four games.

    If pulled over for a DUI without reaching or exceeding the blood-alcohol content level the next time he gets a DUI regardless of BAC level should result in a four-game suspension.

    If found or pleads guilty to alcohol-related involuntary manslaughter the player should be suspended for one year.

    Those who repeat and are guilty of the same offenses after serving suspensions should get additional one-year suspensions while those who are arrested despite not reaching or exceeding blood-alcohol content levels should get additional four-game suspensions.

    Those who serve suspensions should be mandated for alcohol rehabilitation. This suspensions sound fine, but the problem will not be solved unless rehabilitation is attended and is successfully completed.

  31. The problem with alcohol is that it peels away inhibitions. No planned penalties will stop most from drinking and driving. They’d probably start the thinking “I won’t drink much” then it’s “I won’t drink much more” then it’s “I’m good enough to drive.” A community problem needs a community solution…players looking out for players or establishments not over serving.

  32. Really? We are suggesting tougher laws so NFL players don’t get into trouble and do what happens every 6 secs in this country? How bout we make tougher laws because of the much much much higher % of the others that commit this daily in the general public? I guess whatever it takes to get that done but let’s not confuse the reason.

  33. This is an extreme case of a DUI and is the reason that DUI’s are issued in the 1st place. Most DUI’s are for far less then in this case.

    He will receive punishment & have to live with this for the rest of his life. Both families. And my thoughts and prayers go out to all those involved.

    DUI’s are a multi million dollar industry for cities and municipalities. It is easy to use a case like this to back up one’s argument that there should be a zero tolerance and it is easy to get on a soapbox and assume the popular position of being tough on it.

    However, extreme cases don’t account for every DUI handed out…or even most. Wrecks involve people talking or texting, putting on make up or shaving. Eating a burger or changing a radio station.

    Don’t use this situation to glamourize a position…and pray for the families..

  34. Um No it wouldn’t deter sh_t! But sure is a good excuse for the NFL to steal more $ from players. Why is it that the only punishment they feel works involves $. The Law itself merely makes DUI an inconvenience for motorists, it’s a money making offense. If they REALLY wanted to stop DUI they’d give you an automatic 4 months in jail. That would deter people from drinking and driving but then they would have a money making racket. If you are really passionate about ending drinking and driving of NFL players ( which punishing them outside the law should be illegal) Then take away the one thing they want even more than the $, suspend them for 4-5 games or whatever you think is severe enough, that would work, they want to be on that stage. But I bet my life the NFL would never do that because honestly they don’t deeply care about the offense they care about making the media Think they care…. They do however love that money!

  35. I read some of these comments and its amazing. One is saying that the team needs to provide rides whether it be at the team or players expense, others talking about 4, 8 game suspensions.. and then the “athletes need to be treated like regular people”..
    I had a DUI, all said and done, I paid just over $10,000, which at the time was just over half my annual salary. I lost my wife (divorce), and guess what? My employer did not set up any kind of ride for me when I go “clubbing”..
    Athlete or not we all need to be responsible. When you drink, put your keys up.

  36. “League, teams, union must solve problem of drunk driving by NFL players”… Wait why?

    Not saying that what happened in Texas today wasn’t awful, or tragic, or a senseless waste of human life, nor am I saying that drunk driving is not a problem, or that it shouldn’t be stopped. I’m just not totally clear on how it is the responsibility of the NFL, the teams, or the players union to do that.

    These are adult men who are putting their lives and the lives of others in danger through reckless and stupid actions. I guess I’m just not seeing how somebody else needs to take charge of these men and take steps to prevent them from drunk driving in the future.

    I’m an adult man, I’m presented with similar choices every weekend. Is it up to the company I work for, or its marketing department, or some kind of national marketing conglomerate to prevent me from driving drunk?

    Point is that, while we, as NFL fans, are intimately exposed to the tragic stories of players whose lives are destroyed by drunk driving, are they really that different from the rest of us? There have been around 1200 drunk driving fatalities so far in 2012: every one just as shocking and tragic as Jerry Brown, but has anyone written articles about how Wal-Mart, or Pepsi, or General Dynamics, or GMC need to step up and take steps to stop their employees from drunk driving? No, that would be ridiculous.

    I’m starting to beat a dead horse here, but NFL players are grown men, and the idea that they should be treated any differently from grown men in other professions is insulting, disrespectful, and, in a word, ridiculous.

  37. Where in the past most bad behavior would be hidden from most of the fans who only had access to the news about teams in their local market, the internet now exposes the lousy behavior of many many players to everyone.

    These over entitled dirtbags think they can do anything they want and not pay the consequences for their crimes. And to think that all the teams have numbers they can call say they’re drunk, and both get a ride and have their car driven home for them and yet still player after player is arrested for dui.

    Both the player driving and the player that died were idiots. One for driving drunk the other for allowing him to and getting in the vehicle. They’re both out of the league all right.

    As to increasing the penalties it won’t do anything. The players have such a feeling of entitlement they don’t give a damn what the penalties are they think that they’ll never be applied to them personally.

  38. The problem is the court system dont hold athletes to the same standard. Normal person would go to prison for years if convicted. Athletes might get a month. Look what happened to Donte Stallworth when he was conviected of DUI manslaughter. I think he got 30 days in jail. Goodell did suspend him for a year but that isnt in the rule book.

    Some athletes dont fear the consequence of getting into trouble. If the court system doesnt want to punish them correctly, then I am all for the NFL doing something about it.

  39. “Though the union should be protecting its players, why protect those who drive drunk?”

    If the owners are for it, the union is against it.

  40. Personal responsibility – why bother with it when these guys are protected by a union?

    Throw the book at these guys, take their money, and make them hire drivers.

    If I was making millions like NFL players I would:

    1) Hide as much from Obama as I possibly can b/c he will try to take it all.

    2) Hire a driver so I can party up until the point that I settle down.

    3) Find a way to play in the NFL w/o being forced to pay union dues.

  41. “League, teams, union must solve problem of drunk driving by NFL players”

    Really? What this means is this:

    Any problem caused by NFL players is not their fault, it is someone else’s problem and the solution must be found by someone else but it cannot be implemented unless NFL players ok it. At that time they will say “we’re grown men and can make our own decisions”.

    If that will be the case then I challenge ALL NFL players to MAN UP and take personal responsibility for your actions, that means shut up and take your consequences if/when you screw up.

  42. The ability to eliminate drunk driving lies within one’s self. You make the decision to either drive or don’t. The punitive punishments in the justice system should be enough of a deterrent (fines, probation, possible prison, license revocation, etc.). I had a DWI over 3.5 years ago & I am still paying for it today. It’s not worth it & I have made the conscious decision to not drink & drive any more (well, I made the decision to not drink anymore, period, thus no drinking & driving).

  43. The NFL is not a babysitter.

    Deterrence is what the criminal justice system is for. The NFL does not act to deter societal deviance or criminal behavior; it acts to protect its own image.

  44. I always thought the law applied the same to NFL players as the rest of us. This is a society problem not an NFL one. The last thing we need is for individual companies having the ability to make up penalties for breaking certain laws (some would say that already exists) that are different from the rest of society.

    Tragic what happened today but that is probably the only one we will hear about I am sure there are many other people who lost people today through their thoughtless actions of someone getting behind the wheel drunk.

  45. Harsher penalties aren’t going to make idiots smarter. DUI penalties are already plenty harsh; unfortunately, there’s no shortage of stupid people and that stupidity is only enhanced by the booze.

  46. Its a Carrot and Stick paradigm. Punishment after the fact is limited in effectiveness, and does nothing for the previous victims. Considering the charitable giving among athletes and unemployment rates I would think a pool of sober individuals drawn from marginal Pros, former college associates, or even one’s own “Posse” could be formed in the way of a charity to add more carrot to the formula. Teams could ask for a list from each player and a promise to include them in their partying. At least it would highlight the problem, and could save some valuable athletes in the process.

  47. To those that say you can’t hold an NFL player to a higher standard than regular people – they’re not.

    CDL drivers can’t blow above 0.0 in ANY vehicle or they lose their license (job) for a year and basically can’t get work for 3 to 7 – given how most commercial carriers hire.

    So I can’t have anything above 0.0 or I lose my job for about 7 years, I don’t see coming down harder on an NFL guy is all that unfair. (spare me the ‘you can get some other line of work’ – so can an NFL guy – after all, they are college educated – right?)

    IMO the penalty for DUI in general, legally needs to be much stiffer but that’s for a different post.

  48. This has nothing to do with NFL players they were young kids who happen to play football they could have been stock brokers or school teachers.

    They did a stupid thing the NFL has zero business getting in the business of what happens let the LOE deal with it.

    If this kind of talk was happening in the 60’s and 70’s we would all be doing house chores on Sunday afternoon as there would not be NFL football

  49. The idea that increased penalties from the league are going to make a difference is a joke. If the risk of ending up in jail or dead does not stop them, the threat of a fine or suspension by the league is not going to do it. If they end up in jail they are automatically losing those game checks and not playing, so why does the league need to start playing in law enforcement as well. What is needed is for the teams to sop protecting the players who break the law and helping them get sweetheart deals from proscutors. Let them take their lumps from the courts like any other citizen. If the league stops helping them get out of trouble all the time then the true consequences of their bad behavior will hit home.

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