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From DWIs to other offenses, are pro athletes system targets?

Are professional baseball players, football stars and other high-profile athletes targeted by police? That’s the argument that one Major League Baseball player made when pulled over by police in Atlanta in April and charged with DWI and speeding, both charges that were dropped weeks later.

USA Today recently reported that Atlanta Braves pitcher Derek Lowe repeatedly told the officers who were arresting him that he was not drinking or racing, as the officers claimed. Lowe was charged with drunk driving and reckless driving in April after refusing to take a breath test, sources report.

But it didn’t take long for prosecutors to drop both charges, saying that authorities didn’t have enough evidence to move forward with the case against the star athlete.

The Associated Press released video of the arrest in which Lowe repeatedly denies that he was drinking. He also denies that he was racing other vehicles. At one point, Lowe reluctantly tells the police officers that he’s a professional baseball player. When admitting this, Lowe tells the officers that based on his profession, the police would immediately think he was guilty.

This brings up an important point: A lot of benefits undoubtedly come with being a professional athlete, but do some negatives come with it, too? Specifically, do police officers target athletes for DWI and other charges simply because they’re famous and easy to make examples out of?

This is a long-running question, one not likely to be resolved any time soon. But it’s clear that many professional athletes – Lowe among them – believe that they are more frequently targeted by law enforcement professionals because of who they are.


USA Today: “Video shows Lowe denied drinking, racing,” Greg Bluestein, 7 Jun. 2011

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