Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay was arrested on March 17 for allegedly operating a vehicle while intoxicated. He is still facing four felony counts of possession of a controlled substance. He also had $29,000 in cash and bottles of prescription drugs in his vehicle when he was arrested.
All of this sounds pretty sketchy, yet Irsay is likely to walk away with only a slap on the wrist. In fact, it is two months later and it doesn't seem like there is a real rush to punish Irsay. He was very clever to have entered a rehabilitation facility following his arrest.
But what if you aren't the billionaire owner of a sports team? What would happen if you, an average joe or jane, had been in his shoes on that night?
While "operating a vehicle while intoxicated" varies from state to state, an OWI is a misdemeanor. It's defined as the impairment of mental and physical faculties by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. It can carry a maximum jail sentence of 60 days, and a fine of $500.00. You can even be charged with an OWI/DUI for just sitting in your car while being drunk. Imagine that...not drinking and driving, and still busted for "sleeping it off" in your car.
As for the possession of a controlled substance, the prosecution would have to prove that the person knew the substance was a controlled substance and that there was enough of the drug to constitute a usable amount. A defense lawyer can argue how easy it is for a passenger to stash a controlled substance under the seat of a vehicle without the driver of the car being aware that it is there.