Michael Phelps is easily the most decorated athlete in the Olympics ever since the games started. However, he was arrested in September and charged with DUI. The swimmer pled guilty to the charge on Friday in a court in Baltimore.
Phelps, who is currently 29 years of age, filed the guilty plea related to the DUI charge at the Brooklyn Hargrove District Court. He received a suspended prison sentence of one year from the judge and will be required to serve 18 months of probation under supervision.
Phelps didn’t say anything when he entered the courthouse, but after the proceedings he made a statement to the press in which he explained that he had the tools to move on from the issue. He stated that he had made a very serious mistake. He also said that he wanted to share the mistake he made with others so they wouldn’t repeat his error in judgment.
Phelps was arrested on the 30th of September after he was found doing 84 mph in an area of Interstate 95 where the speed limit is 45 mph, namely in the Fort McHenry Tunnel. Officials claimed speeding wasn’t the only problem. Phelps also crossed the centerline.
According to the documents detailing the charge, Phelps had revealed to the arresting officer that he was coming from the Horseshoe Casino, where he had had three or four drinks. The swimmer agreed to take a breathalyzer test, which resulted in a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.14, which is higher than the legal limit in Maryland of 0.08.
Steve Allen, Phelps’ attorney, stated that the swimmer had been working since being arrested to get help for his issue. Thus, Phelps booked himself for a 45-day treatment at a Phoenix-based in-patient facility, as well as attending an after-treatment Towson-based facility regularly after getting home. It seems he’s also been going to AA meetings.
Phelps admitted his faults to the judge as well as expressing his desire to do the right thing, which is precisely what he said to the press on the courthouse step’s after the hearing was over.
He explained that the past three months have been extremely tough on him, with this period being the hardest in his entire life, but that he had gone through some of most significant learning experiences of his life, which has helped him learn a lot about himself. He stated that for that day he was happy to be able to move forward and that he would continue growing from the incident and would continuously pursue recovery. He admitted the following few years would represent a challenge but that he was very happy and pleased that he has an excellent support network surrounding him.
Originally, Phelps had to deal with five charges, three of which were related to the DUI, however four of the charges were dropped.
Nathan Brauerman, the judge presiding over the proceedings, stated that he didn’t think the swimmer deserved a court lecture and that he felt Phelps was taking the right measures to make changes in his life.
Before he confirmed the guilty plea, the judge told Phelps that he clearly had no power over alcohol and that he had to look after himself because the following time this occurred, there would be no other choice but to put him in jail.
Phelps’ lawyer claimed that the judge needn’t worry because he was certain it would be the last time something like this would be happening in the swimmer’s life.
The judge also stated that he hoped Phelps was done repeating the same mistakes. This was in reference to a 2004 arrest when Phelps, 19 at the time, was picked up for drunk driving. At the time, he was not convicted and was also sentenced to probation for 18 months.
Phelps was also the target of criticism for a photo that surfaced in 2009 showing the swimmer smoking marijuana. He wasn’t charged with anything but he was suspended and not allowed to swim for three months.
Friday, the judge stated that Phelps had to stop putting other people at risk.
Ray Lewis, the former superstar linebacker for the Ravens, was also present at the hearing. This surprised many who were present but not Phelps, who has seen Lewis as his mentor and friend for a long time. Lewis sat in the second row behind Phelps and held a Bible. He was seen praying.
Debbie Phelps, the swimmer’s mother, was also present.
The Olympic swimmer has been suspended again from US Swimming because of his recent arrest. The suspension is for six months, which means that he will be unable to compete in the world championship’s next summer.
Phelps is still training, though, in Baltimore, with his coach Bob Bowman. He plans to compete in the Olympics in 2016.
The swimmer could have ended up in jail for a year, lost his license for six months, and been fined $1,000.
It appears that the police officers from Maryland Transportation Authority were shocked to discover who they had pulled over. It appears the officers in question began using their instant messaging system to make inappropriate banter. The Maryland Transportation Authority claimed the officers had received counselling and the matter of the IM system being misused had been dealt with.
Phelps Speeding Video Released by Maryland Transportation Authority
After pleading guilty in court, the Maryland Transportation Authority released footage from a surveillance camera in the Fort McHenry Tunnel as well as the police barrack on the night of Phelps’ arrest.
Court records stated that the officer saw Phelps speeding and called dispatch to let them know. The officer then followed Phelps when he took the ramp. Phelps continued to speed and began to drift out of his land.
When he entered the tunnel, police officers stated he kept speeding and began to cross over double-painted lanes, all of which were occupied. He eventually drifted in front of a tractor-trailer. The officer pulled the swimmer over once he had cleared the tunnel.
The officer stated he noticed the swimmer’s eyes were bloodshot and red and that Phelps’ speech was, in the officers own words, “mush mouth.” Phelps revealed to the officer that he had just left the Horseshoe Casino, where he’d imbibed 3 or 4 drinks, with the last drink being approximately 2 hours before being pulled over.
The officer required Phelps to perform a few field-specific sobriety tests, when the officer said that Phelps missed three heel to toe steps and stepped away from the line twice. He started to count aloud on step three. The officer then asked Phelps to stand on one leg when the swimmer told the officer that it wasn’t going to happen. That’s when he was arrested.
Around 2 in the morning, Phelps was taken back to police barracks. He had been handcuffed. The video sows police searching Phelps’ backpack, removing his cuffs and discussing something while doing paperwork.
At 2:25 in the morning, Phelps decided to submit to a breathalyzer test. His result was 0.14, which is almost twice Maryland’s legal limit. Officers demanded Phelps remove his shoes at one point. He could then be seen texting. At approximately 4 in the morning, officers gave him back his backpack and put the handcuffs on him again. The Maryland Transportation Authority police stated that Phelps couldn’t find anyone to take him home, so an officer did so, taking him 1.5 miles to his residence.