Vikings WR Simpson avoids jail time with plea

    2014-01-02 20:39

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson avoided jail time after pleading guilty Thursday to careless driving and refusing to take a DWI test.

In return, prosecutors dropped a misdemeanor charge of driving while impaired.

Simpson was sentenced just for the careless driving misdemeanor, the Star Tribune reported. Sentencing on his refusal to submit to the test was stayed.

Simpson was ordered to do 120 hours of community service in public schools. He also must attend alcohol seminars and will be on probation for a year.

The 27-year-old player plans to lecture students about staying in school and making good choices, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

''I'm trying to help them go through experiences they might go through,'' he said after the hearing in Hennepin County court. ''I'm someone they might trust.''

Simpson was arrested Nov. 9 after a state trooper responded to a stalled car blocking lanes on Interstate 394 out of downtown Minneapolis.

As Simpson got out of a red Dodge Charger, the trooper observed him with watery eyes and slightly slurred speech. Simpson said he was at the Pour House, a popular bar nearby, but denied that he'd been drinking.

The trooper said Simpson failed three field sobriety tests, and a preliminary breath test allegedly registered a blood-alcohol content of 0.095 percent. The legal limit for driving in Minnesota is 0.08.

Simpson was booked at the Hennepin County jail, where he refused to take another breath test.

In a plea deal with the Minneapolis city attorney's office, prosecutors agreed to dismiss the driving under the influence count as long as Simpson admitted to refusing the chemical test and a new charge of careless driving.

''We wanted careless driving because it is our opinion he would've had a low test, or passed the test, if he would've taken it,'' Simpson's Minneapolis attorney, David Valentini, said after the hearing.

Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal said she believed the plea deal was ''a fair resolution.''

''We did not treat him any better than we would any other defendant,'' she said. ''It holds him accountable as well as providing a significant opportunity for him to give back to the community'' in the form of him speaking to students.

When Simpson signed with the Vikings in 2012, he was dealing with the repercussions of a three-game suspension by the NFL stemming from a drug arrest and was in the first year of three years' probation ordered by a Kentucky judge.

In April 2012, Simpson was sentenced in Kentucky to 15 days in jail and put on probation for three years, along with 200 hours of community service. He originally was charged there on March 1, 2012, with felony charges after marijuana was shipped to his home in Kentucky.

In a plea agreement, authorities agreed that Simpson apparently wanted the marijuana for his own use, and that of his friends.

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