Olympic Champion Michael Phelps Puts Swimming on Hold Following DUI Arrest in Baltimore

According to news reports, Olympic athlete and champion swimmer Michael Phelps put training on the backburner after his second, and most recent impaired driving arrest up in Maryland. Based on news articles, 29-year-old Phelps decided to put his swimming career on hold in order for the 18-time gold medal winner to go through a six-week in-patient drug rehabilitation program, which he stated would allow him to get the help he believes he needs to “better understand” himself.

The incident that led to this latest DUI arrest occurred in Phelps’s home town of Baltimore when the famous Olympian was pulled over by police for an apparent traffic violation on Tuesday. During the traffic stop, patrolmen suspected that the man was inebriated. After administering several of the standardized field sobriety tests, which Phelps reportedly failed to perform successfully, officers took the Olympian into custody. At police headquarters it was allegedly determined that the man had a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.14 percent, which is almost twice the legal limit in most states including New Jersey.

News reports around the internet suggest that Phelps was concerned about this latest DUI, which is likely why he opted to sign himself into a comprehensive rehab program. Based on those reports, his voluntary admission into the program at Octagon means that Phelps will more than likely miss the first United States Grand Prix swim meet in Minneapolis this coming November. As for the balance of the scheduled Grand Prix events, all five of those take place in the first part of 2015.

The police stop that netted Phelps his latest DWI took place along a portion of Interstate 95 in the Fort McHenry Tunnel near Baltimore. The Olympian was stopped by police based on excessive speed over the posted limit, as well as allegedly crossing double lane lines, according to Maryland Transportation Authority police officers. On news article stated that patrolmen clocked Phelps’ vehicle at 84mph in a 45 zone. At the time of the news article, the athlete’s DWI hearing was scheduled for November 19.

About ten years ago, a younger Phelps was charged with drunken driving following his second highly successful Olympic games over in Greece — the then 19-year-old held six gold medals at the time of his arrest, after which he plead guilty to the charges. However, as an underage first-time offender he reportedly avoided an actual conviction. The judge in that case granted Phelps probation prior to judgment and sentenced the young Olympian to 18 months’ probation plus a monetary fine.

This time around, Mr. Phelps has a much more serious situation on his hands. Based on current Maryland drunken driving law, if convicted, Phelps could be looking at upward of a year in jail, as well as a six-month suspension of his driver’s license, and a $1,000 fine. It is important to mention that most drunk driving attorneys in that state would agree that it is rather unlikely that Phelps would end up serving any jail time. Furthermore, at the time of this particular news item, the USA Swimming had not announced any particular disciplinary action resulting from this latest incident.

Phelps says swimming on hold after DUI arrest, My9NJ.com, October 5, 2014