Police Stop Bears Tank Johnson in Arizona

In what seems to be a ritual at Halas Hall, the Bears began gathering information FridayTank Johnson about a police incident involving Johnson that could affect the length of his eight-game NFL suspension — if not affect his standing with the team.  The Chicago Tribune reports that Gilbert, AZ police pulled Johnson over at 3:30 a.m. Friday and issued a citation for “being impaired to the slightest degree,” according to police spokesman Sgt. Andrew Duncan.  Police initially stopped Johnson at the corner of Gilbert and Park avenues for going 40 mph in a 25 mph zone when the officer on the scene “made observations that led him to believe Johnson was impaired,” according to Duncan.  Police didn’t release any information related to where Johnson had been before being pulled over.

Johnson was taken to the Gilbert police station, where blood was drawn to determine his blood-alcohol content.  Results of those tests aren’t expected for up to two weeks, Duncan said.  In Arizona, the legal limit for being under the influence is having a blood-alcohol content of .08.  Johnson has not been charged with DUI.  If Johnson exceeded .08, he could be charged with driving under the influence.  If he wasn’t past the legal limit, Johnson still faces the charge of “being impaired to the slightest degree,” according to Duncan.  Gilbert prosecutors also might decide not to file any charges if blood tests reveal a level lower than .08.

The officer at the scene reported Johnson “was very cooperative,” and was released under his own recognizance after the blood tests, police said.  The Bears issued a statement that only confirmed their awareness of the situation.  “We are aware Tank was pulled over early Friday morning in Arizona,” the statement read. “We currently are gathering facts regarding the incident.  We will withhold further comment until we have more information.”  NFL Vice President of Public Relations Greg Aiello said the league would have no comment on the matter either.  Johnson’s lawyer, Lorna Propes, had no comment Friday afternoon and said she similarly was in the process of finding out exactly what happened.  Attempts to reach Johnson and his family in Arizona were unsuccessful.

If charged or convicted even of the lesser charge of “being impaired,” Johnson could face an additional suspension from either the league or the team that, in effect, could wipe out his 2007 season.  In other words, Johnson’s decision to stay out late during his first night home could impact the Bears’ depth at defensive tackle in their quest to return to the Super Bowl.

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