Michael Phelps’ DUI Will Be Viewed As First Offense By Maryland Courts

Photo by David Farr

BALTIMORE, Maryland, September 30. THOUGH this morning’s arrest for driving under the influence was Michael Phelps’ second offense, he will only have to worry about being charged as a first-time DUI offender, according to Maryland law.

Sources tell Swimming World that the state of Maryland would only view today’s DUI as a second offense if it took place less than five years after the first incident. Phelps’ first DUI took place almost 10 years ago, in November 2004, and he was sentenced to 18 months probation and community service.

The maximum penalty for first-time DUI offenders in Maryland is up to one year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. Phelps could also have his license suspended for a minimum of six months. Phelps will also face penalties and fines for excessive speeding, and the punishment for that varies greatly.

With other sports heroes facing stiff punishment for various crimes in recent weeks, Phelps could be looking at a serious reprimand from the Maryland courts and USA Swimming, said licensed attorney and swim coach Doug Fonder.

“The social climate right now with athletes doing drugs and involved in domestic violence is at an all-time high,” said Fonder, the head coach for the Virginia Gators. “Ray Rice initially got a two-month suspension which turned into something much harsher for him. With Phelps being a figurehead athlete as the face of swimming, they can easily make an example out of him.”

After a photograph of Phelps smoking from a marijuana bong in 2009 went viral, Phelps was given a three-month suspension by USA Swimming. USA Swimming’s only statement regarding the DUI today read: “The news regarding Michael Phelps and his actions are disappointing and unquestionably serious. We expect our athletes to conduct themselves responsibly in and out of the pool.”