NFL wide receiver Justin Blackmonwas in court before a judge on Monday, and plead not guilty to a charge of aggravated DUI. An aggravated DUI charge is given when the operator of a vehicle has a blood alcohol level of .15 or more, which is double the legal limit for most states. At the time of his arrest early Sunday morning, Blackmon was pulled over with a blood alcohol content of .24, three times over the legal limit for driving a vehicle. Blackmon, who was the fifth pick in the first round of April’s NFL Draft, was also charged with a DUI while in college in 2010. This young athlete has to be taught a lesson, and needs to become the face of a crime that occurs (and also goes unpunished) way too often. Over 1,000,000 people are arrested in this country for DUI’s each year, and if you factor in how many people drive while intoxicated and get away with it, those numbers grow to staggering proportions.
The Jacksonville Jaguars traded up to get the rights to Blackmon in the Draft. Blackmon is still unsigned, but this second offense will no doubt be a major red flag, and could cost Blackmon lots of money and bonuses in his contract. Although Blackmon hasn’t played a snap in the NFL yet, he has already built up celebrity status. Being a well known athlete shouldn’t put Blackmon in a different category than any other person in this situation. In many cases, a second DUI charge in less than four years could result in an immediate 30-day jail sentence.
There is little doubt that Blackmon will not get the most stringent of punishments from the court. The NFL, however, can use this incident to forewarn rookies, veterans, and future stars of the NFL that this behavior will not be tolerated. During his tenure as NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell has been strict in almost every case of player conduct violation. Blackmon’s conduct is worse than any bounty scandal or even a steroid issue. This young man is not only endangering himself, but he is putting other people’s lives in jeopardy with his actions. Every 30 minutes, someone is killed by a drunk driver.
Blackmon, who is only 22, is going through a period of night life living that many of us have experienced, but his lifestyle is coupled with an excessive amount of fame and money tossed into his lap. If these privileges are left to be abused recklessly without consequence, the results could literally be fatal.