Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith will not be charged in connection with his 2022 arrest on suspicion of DUI. Prosecutors also declined to charge Smith with Reckless Driving, citing insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty of either offense.
Smith, 32, was arrested early on the morning of Jan. 10, 2022, hours after the Seahawks returned to Seattle from their 2021 season finale against the Arizona Cardinals. According to an arrest report, he was initially stopped for going 96 mph in a 60 mph zone and driving erratically across several lanes of traffic.
The police report also stated Smith was “agitated” during his encounter with law enforcement and had been driving 96 mph in a 60 mph zone. Smith’s blood-alcohol concentration was found to be .038, less than half of the .08 legal limit in Washington State. His THC concentration was 2.6, also well below the legal limit of 5.
The state trooper who pulled Smith over detected an odor of intoxicants and observed that he had bloodshot, watery eyes, according to the arrest report. A judge issued a search warrant for a blood draw after Smith declined to take a preliminary breath test. He was taken to a hospital where he became agitated before the blood draw, even with the Seahawks’ director of team security present to try to calm Smith down, according to the report. Restraints were used to complete the process, troopers wrote.
“In considering the filing of charges, prosecutors must consider any reasonably foreseeable defense to be raised . . . From the investigation material, prosecutors do not have evidence to rebut likely explanations for his bad driving. While we can show that Mr. Smith consumed alcohol and marijuana and that in general those two substances have a compounding effect, we do not have any evidence to show exactly what effect they had on Mr. Smith, and a reasonable doubt exists as to whether his ability to drive was affected by alcohol or marijuana.” ~King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
The prosecuting attorney’s office wrote that despite evidence that Smith was driving fast and briefly traveled out of his lane, they could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was disregarding the safety of people or property on the road.
Due to a backlog with blood tests in the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab, Smith’s results were not provided to King County prosecutors until this past April. The prosecutor’s office noted in its release that Smith’s samples were being stored at the crime lab in a refrigerator that failed, and that while “there is no reasonable doubt to the accuracy of the results, there would likely be litigation related to the handling of his blood samples.”
At the time of his arrest, Smith had just completed his third season as Russell Wilson‘s backup with the Seahawks. In a tweet after the arrest, Smith urged the public to withhold judgment. He later told reporters that he didn’t think anything would come of the matter.
My opinion? Many evidentiary issues were favorable on behalf of Mr. Smith. First, his blood-alcohol and THC levels were below the legal limit to charge him with DUI. Mathematically speaking, the State could not prove DUI. This evidentiary issue was exacerbated by the WSP’s delays in processing the blood test and, ultimately, their tainting/destruction of Mr. Smith’s blood evidence.
But why couldn’t the Prosecutor’s Office charge Reckless Driving? Under the WPIC Jury Instructions, a person commits the crime of reckless driving when he or she drives a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property or races a motor vehicle upon a public highway. Here, the Prosecutor’s office decided there was no evidence of “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”
There’s question, however, as to why Mr. Smith’s excessive speed of 90+ mph down a public highway was not sufficient evidence of Reckless Driving. Under RCW 46.61.530, “Any person or persons who wilfully compare or contest relative speeds by operation of one or more motor vehicles shall be guilty of racing, which shall constitute reckless driving under RCW 46.61.500.
Anyway, great outcome for Geno Smith. His defense attorney did well.