MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson has officially been charged with DWI, after being arrested Saturday on suspicion of drunken driving along Interstate 394. Despite those charges, it appears Simpson will suit up for the Vikings this weekend.
Simpson was charged with one count of fourth-degree DWI and one count of refusing to submit a chemical test, which is also a misdemeanor. Still, he could face prison time, if convicted, because of an incident two years ago.
According to the charges, a trooper was dispatched to a stalled vehicle that was blocking a lane on westbound I-394 out of downtown Minneapolis around 4:28 a.m. on Saturday.
The trooper located a Dodge Challenger with Kentucky license plates, which was stalled on the right shoulder of I-394 and 5th Street.
A man, later identified as 27-year-old Simpson, stepped out of the driver’s seat and walked towards the trooper, claiming he thought his rear axle was broken.
The trooper said while talking with Simpson he noticed a strong odor of alcohol coming from him and saw that he had bloodshot/watery eyes.
Simpson said he was at the Pour House downtown but denied having anything to drink.
He was then given the Horizontal Gaze test, which he failed.
Simpson was then asked to perform the Walk and Turn test, which he also failed.
Simpson performed a third and final test, the One Leg Stand test, and failed that, as well.
He was given a preliminary breath test, which registered a .095 BAC.
Simpson was then placed under arrest.
At 4:43 a.m., he was given a chance to contact an attorney. About half an hour later, he was asked to perform another breath test and refused.
When asked why, Simpson said his reason was “advice of my council.”
He was released from Hennepin County jail Saturday afternoon after posting a bond.
The Vikings gave Simpson a second change by picking him up as a free agent last season. Just months earlier, he had pleaded guilty to a felony. Drug agents traced a shipment of marijuana to his home in northern Kentucky. They found more than two pounds in the package, and even more inside his home.
As part of a plea agreement, Simpson was put on three years’ probation which reportedly included an agreement that he wouldn’t drink.
On Monday, Simpson addressed the issue and apologized — choosing his words carefully, not admitting to drinking.
“I apologize for the attention that I’ve brought with my team and myself,” Simpson said.
Simpson is the Vikings’ leading receiver this season, with more than 490 yards.
Coach Leslie Frazier said Simpson will likely play this weekend, but the team is consulting the NFL over possible discipline.
“There are some limits with what you can and can’t do,” Frazier said.
Across from the Dome, fans at Hubert’s were mixed on letting Simpson play.
“As much as you love the team, it probably sends a bad message,” said John Starinski.
Others said there’s more at play.
“I think more than anything in football, it’s a big business,” said Corey Yeager, of Eagan. “So it’s not necessarily a moral or ethical decision. It’s more of a business decision.”
It’s a union issue, too.
There’s specific wording in the players’ collective bargaining agreement about the substance abuse policy, and what teams can do in terms of discipline before the league has a chance to act.
Again, that’s something the Vikings are sorting through right now.
Simpson has a first court appearance scheduled in Minneapolis for Dec. 11. Between now and then, the Vikings will have played four more games.