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Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay charged with impaired driving

By Greg Botelho and Quand Thomas, CNN
updated 8:19 AM EDT, Sun May 25, 2014
Jim Irsay was arrested in March after police noticed him driving slowly, stopping in a roadway and failing to use his turn signal. The Colts owner has been charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated and possession of a controlled substance.
Jim Irsay was arrested in March after police noticed him driving slowly, stopping in a roadway and failing to use his turn signal. The Colts owner has been charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated and possession of a controlled substance.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: NFL says its policies apply "to all league personnel," vows it'll take "appropriate action"
  • Jim Irsay is charged with driving while intoxicated, possession of a controlled substance
  • The Colts owner checked into a treatment facility a day after the March 16 incident
  • His legal team credits the prosecutor's office for not pressing felony charges

(CNN) -- Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay was charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated and possession of a controlled substance on Friday, just over two months after his arrest, a prosecutor said.

The misdemeanor charges filed Friday are pending in Hamilton County, Indiana, Superior Court, Prosecuting Attorney D. Lee Buckingham's office said in a press release. The drug was identified in a court filing as oxycodone and/or hydrocordone.

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Irsay's initial hearing on both counts is scheduled for June 19.

The Colts owner and CEO's legal team, in a statement after the charges were announced, thanked the Hamilton County prosecutor's office "for its professionalism in its investigation." The statement pointed out that authorities determined that "the facts in this matter did not warrant the filing of felony charges relative to Mr. Irsay's prescription medications.

The NBA's suspension and $2.5-million fine for Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling sent shockwaves through the sports world, but it's not the first time a league has cracked down on a team owner. The NBA's suspension and $2.5-million fine for Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling sent shockwaves through the sports world, but it's not the first time a league has cracked down on a team owner.
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"Mr. Irsay will deal with the remaining misdemeanor charges through the judicial process," the statement added.

Police in Carmel had earlier said that Irsay was stopped at 11:41 p.m. on March 16 for driving slowly, stopping in a roadway and failing to use his turn signal.

The probable cause affidavit indicates that the Colts owner's speech was "slow and slurred," his eyes were "red and glassy" and his balance was "very unsteady." He failed a number of field sobriety tests, had trouble reciting the alphabet and told an officer "that he was having a hard time finding his house."

In addition, a search of his vehicle found prescription drugs in bottles, police said in a press release. The drugs were not associated with any prescription bottles in the vehicle, according to police.

The next day, Irsay "voluntary checked into a highly respected health care facility," according to the Colts.

"(He) is committed committed to undergoing the treatment and care necessary to help him meet his challenges head-on," added the team.

Irsay is the first National Football League owner to face criminal charges since Eddie DeBartolo of the San Francisco 49ers was indicted on federal racketeering charges in 1997.

In that time, the league -- including its current commissioner, Roger Goodell -- have frequently punished players for off-the-field indiscretions that landed them in court.

It remains to be seen what will happen, then, to the 54-year-old Irsay, who has largely stayed out of the public spotlight -- except for regular tweets -- since his arrest.

In a brief statement Friday, the league said, "The NFL's Personal Conduct Policy applies to all league personnel and holds all of us accountable. We are reviewing the matter and will take appropriate action in accordance with the policy.

The Colts owner -- whose father, Robert Irsay, owned the team before him -- has spoken publicly about his struggles with substance abuse as well as his efforts to stay sober.

In a tweet last December, Jim Irsay said that he didn't drink: "(S)orry to ruin your theories ... but I don't drink ... at all," he posted on his official account.

Report: Irsay's behavior was alarming

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