McNair owner of vehicle driven by drunken driver

Updated: May 10, 2007, 6:09 PM ET
Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Baltimore Ravens quarterback Steve McNair was charged with driving under the influence Thursday even though police said his brother-in-law was behind the wheel of the pickup registered to the former Tennessee Titan.

Steve McNair

Although McNair was just a passenger, he was charged with a misdemeanor under a Tennessee law that prohibits a vehicle owner from letting it be driven by someone who is inebriated.

Police said officer Harold Taylor pulled over McNair's 2003 Dodge pickup just before midnight Wednesday because it was speeding. The driver, 31-year-old Jamie Cartwright, smelled of alcohol, failed a field sobriety test and refused to take a breath alcohol test, police spokesman Don Aaron said.

Cartwright said he was McNair's brother-in-law and acknowledged drinking at least two beers, police said.

The law used to charge McNair doesn't consider whether the vehicle owner was drinking, but only if the driver was impaired. Aaron said Nashville police have used the law to cite 42 other people this year.

"We are aware of the situation, but we're getting most of our information from the media," Ravens spokesman Chad Steele said Thursday. "We've not spoken with Steve, so we're not sure at this time if we will have a statement."

McNair's attorney, Roger May, said he spoke to the player after the arrest.

"Mr. McNair was arrested because of the actions of the driver of a vehicle in which he was a passenger. It had nothing to do with any actions on his part whatsoever. It's totally a derivative arrest," May said.

Ravens president Dick Cass said team officials had talked with McNair and people familiar with the incident. They also have been briefed about Tennessee law.

"We do know that Steve was a passenger in a car he owns that was stopped for speeding," Cass said in a statement. "Steve was not arrested for drinking, or driving the car irresponsibly. There is a court process that will now take place, and Steve will participate in these procedures."

Ravens coach Brian Billick spoke with McNair, and the quarterback issued a statement through the team.

"I have to go through the court process now, and I understand that," McNair said. "I was planning to be in Baltimore for most of the remainder of this month to work out with my teammates, and anticipate that I will be doing that."

McNair declined to comment when he was released from custody. He was accompanied by a friend, nightclub owner Robert "Big Daddy" Gaddy, who told WTVF-TV that McNair had done nothing wrong.

Greg Aiello, an NFL spokesman, said it was too early to determine whether McNair would face any punishment from the league.

"Any law enforcement matter that involves any of our people, we look into it to determine whether there is ultimately any violation of our policies," Aiello said.

McNair was arrested on DUI charges once before in Nashville in May 2003, when he also was charged with illegal gun possession.

After a year of legal wrangling, a judge dismissed those charges, ruling that police didn't have sufficient reason to pull over McNair.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press