The Broncos had a lackluster year, to put it mildly, but they remain second to the Minnesota Vikings in the number of DUIs and arrests. This is not so much a judgment on the players as it is an analysis of law enforcement here in Colorado, which takes driving under the influence very seriously. So much so that the players are treated just like any other driver.
Melvin Carter fights and wins
The good news about getting treated like others is that a judge will typically dismiss faulty evidence. Such was the case with running back Melvin Gordon, who was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Carter was pulled over for driving 71 mph in a 35 mph zone in Denver in October of 2020. He also admitted to drinking a glass of wine and submitted to a field sobriety test, which he apparently failed.
While these details all look bad, evidentiary concerns led to the charges being dismissed on March 10 before a trial could begin. The officer who arrested Gordon did not give the player a breathalyzer test before arresting him. Officers felt they needed to do this to remain safe amid the raging pandemic (the stop was before vaccines were available), but it invalidated the evidence. Gordon did plead guilty to excessive speeding and reckless driving for a total of 8 points on his license. He was fined $479 for the two charges.
The NFL has a code of behaviors fines it levies for convictions. Player contracts also have code of conduct clauses that can involve suspensions and lost income – there was a potential three-game suspension and $4.5 million in guarantees that could have been voided because of the DUI. Gordon avoided these penalties as well. The NFL could have imposed penalties, but the invalid DUI gave it no evidence.
The law protects everyone
Gordon’s outcome was a best-case scenario, but it remains a cautionary tale. He hired an attorney who understood that the prosecution’s evidence was tainted. It was enough to have the DUI charge removed and to plead guilty to lesser charges that were still clear legal violations. Gordon avoided financial penalties and suspensions by fighting the DUI charge, which can also be the case in other professions besides pro football players who fight their charges.