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Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Rookie wide receiver Mike Williams to play Sunday despite DUI charge

TAMPA — Tampa Bay Buccaneers standout rookie wide receiver Mike Williams was arrested on a DUI charge early Friday.

Williams, 23, was arrested about 2:48 a.m. near U.S. 301 and Causeway Boulevard, according to jail records. He was booked at 4:44 a.m. and released at 8:04 a.m. after posting $500 bail.

Williams was driving a black Cadillac 57 mph in a 45 mph zone and weaving between lanes, said Larry McKinnon, Hillsborough County sheriff's spokesman.

Two Breathalyzer tests found his blood-alcohol level at 0.065 and 0.061, records show, below the threshold of 0.08 at which the state presumes impairment.

But Williams failed a field sobriety test, smelled of alcohol and appeared to have glassy eyes, McKinnon said. A urine test was conducted and results are pending, he said. A urine test is done if a deputy suspects a driver is impaired by a substance other than alcohol, McKinnon said.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers officials said Williams will travel Friday to San Francisco with the team and play in Sunday's game against the 49ers.

Head coach Raheem Morris said the decision to let Williams play was tough.

"I'm very disappointed about the bad decision that he made to be out late and about the worse decision he made to have a drink and drive," Morris said Friday. "I was very pleased with his ability to be cooperative and not be disrespectful and make this thing even worse than it could be.

"It happens. It hurts our fans. It hurts our team. It hurts everybody on this football team. But Mike Williams not playing this weekend would hurt the fans more."

Officials aren't saying what impact the charge will have on Williams for the rest of the season.

With blood-alcohol results below 0.08, a case against Williams could be tough to prosecute, said Leslie Sammis, a Tampa DUI defense attorney not connected to the Williams case. Urine test results are typically not a strong indicator of what is in a driver's system at the time of the arrest. And test results often take four months or longer to obtain. Often, a defense attorney will ask for a speedy trial within 90 days, not enough time for a prosecutor to get the results.

Law enforcement uses the field sobriety test to determine if someone's normal faculties are impaired, but it's also not a strong enough indicator to prosecute someone, Sammis said.

Williams leads all rookies in receiving yards, ranks second among rookies in receiving touchdowns and has started all nine games this year for the Bucs. He has 40 receptions this season for 627 yards and five touchdowns. He averages 15.7 yards per catch. His longest reception this season was 58 yards.

His best game this season was against the Arizona Cardinals on Oct. 31 when he nabbed four catches for 105 yards and a touchdown.

The Buccaneers picked Williams in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL draft. He missed all of the 2008 season at Syracuse University after he was caught cheating on a test.

He missed part of the 2009 season after he was involved as a passenger in a car crash. Although the driver in the other car was faulted, Williams was suspended for violating curfew. It was the second curfew violation for Williams, and he left the team with five games left. He later said he left because of miscommunication with his coach.

Williams is the second Bucs player to run afoul of the law this season. The Bucs ended TE Jerramy Stevens' controversial tenure with the team Oct. 25, releasing the veteran two days after he was arrested on two felony marijuana possession charges.

Bucs' safety Tanard Jackson was suspended indefinitely by the NFL on Sept. 22 for violating its substance-abuse policy. He is not eligible for reinstatement until Sept. 22, 2011.

Cornerback Aqib Talib was suspended for the season opener for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy, stemming from a 2009 arrest. Talib was arrested in St. Petersburg in August 2009 and charged with punching a cab driver while en route to the team hotel in Tampa. The case was not adjudicated until April.

Times staff writers Stephen F. Holder and Emily Nipps contributed to this report.

Buccaneers rookie wide receiver Mike Williams, 23, was arrested around 2:48 a.m. in Tampa near U.S. 301 and Causeway Boulevard, according to jail records.

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office

Buccaneers rookie wide receiver Mike Williams, 23, was arrested around 2:48 a.m. in Tampa near U.S. 301 and Causeway Boulevard, according to jail records.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Rookie wide receiver Mike Williams to play Sunday despite DUI charge 11/19/10 [Last modified: Friday, November 19, 2010 6:11pm]

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