<p><br><P> A district court judge on Friday acquitted a Washington Redskins player who had been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol in Waldorf, ruling the traffic stop that led to the arrest was unlawful.<P> In-car police camera footage recorded the moments leading up to the Feb. 19 traffic stop of Byron Craig Westbrook, a Redskins cornerback, but didn't show the football player driving erratically, Judge Kenneth A. Talley said.<P> Although a Charles County sheriff's officer testified that Westbrook crossed over the center line three times and at one point nearly struck the median before the recording started, he didn't immediately stop the football player. Instead, officer Clay Collins followed the gray Mercedes driven by Westbrook, 25, of Herndon, Va., according to testimony at the court hearing.<P> "I don't think any subsequent driving bolstered [the officer's] observations," Talley said, disallowing the traffic stop and acquitting Westbrook of DUI and driving while impaired by alcohol, as well as negligent driving and failure to drive right of center.<P> Collins said he spotted the Mercedes at about 1:45 a.m. on Route 5 near Thomas Stone High School. The car repeatedly drifted outside of its lane, with its left tires at one point moving one to two feet across the center line, the officer reported.<P> The Mercedes then slowed to about 5 mph, and the driver put on a right turn signal and turned at Lakewood Place, Collins testified.<P> "I thought the driver was either intoxicated or lost," the officer said. "He needed help one way or the other."<P> However, Westbrook's defense attorney, James F. Farmer, argued that Collins had no reason to stop his client.<P> Farmer said there was snow on the ground when the traffic stop happened, a factor that could explain why Westbrook might not have stayed inside his lane. In addition, he said Westbrook's use of a turn signal wasn't the act of an intoxicated driver.<P> "We're in America, and [the officer] has to have a reason to stop [Westbrook]," Farmer said.<P> Blayne G. Miley, a Charles County assistant state's attorney, said crossing over the center line was a traffic violation and pointed out that no snow was blocking Westbrook's lane when he drifted outside of the markings.<P> He also said Collins simply needed to have a "reasonable articulable suspicion" that the Mercedes driver was under the influence of alcohol in order to make a traffic stop.<P> Talley then reviewed a portion of the traffic stop recording, which began around the time that Collins turned on his cruiser's lights. Collins testified that the Mercedes crossed lane lines before the footage started.<P> "I don't particularly see anything untoward," Talley said after watching the video.<P> Talley said while Collins didn't do anything wrong, there wasn't enough evidence of impaired driving to allow the traffic stop.<P> Court papers indicated that after Collins stopped Westbrook, the football player failed three sobriety tests and was arrested on a DUI charge.<P> Farmer issued a press release stating that Westbrook has maintained his innocence. When the stop happened, Westbrook had been driving two people home from a celebration of his friends' graduation from the Metropolitan Police Academy.<P> "He wasn't drunk," said James E. Farmer, another attorney for Westbrook and son of James F. Farmer.<P> He added that Talley's ruling was "absolutely the proper decision."<P> The acquittal "marks the end of the investigation by the [National Football League] and the NFL Players Association into the unfounded allegations of any violation of the NFL's policies regarding substance abuse," the release stated.<P> <a href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a><P> <P>
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