LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska center Mike Caputo will be charged with reckless driving rather than drunken driving in connection with his Dec. 11 arrest, authorities said Wednesday.
Caputo was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence after police found him slumped behind the wheel of a running vehicle in a parking lot. Authorities said his blood-alcohol level measured 0.103 percent after his arrest, above the state’s legal limit of 0.08 percent for drivers.
Chief assistant city attorney John McQuinn wouldn’t say why he’s charging Caputo with reckless driving instead of DUI. He said Caputo is not getting preferential treatment because he’s a Nebraska football player. His arraignment is scheduled for Thursday.
Coach Bo Pelini still has not said whether Caputo, an All-Big Ten second-team pick by the coaches, will play for the 21st-ranked Cornhuskers in the Capital One Bowl against No. 10 South Carolina on Jan. 2. Caputo has started every game the past two seasons.
If found guilty of reckless driving, the senior from Omaha would be fined $100 and lose five points from his Nebraska driver’s license. A loss of 12 points over a two-year period results in a license suspension.
“My expectation is he’ll plead guilty and we’ll have a resolution,” defense attorney Terry Dougherty said.
There was some public outcry last month when Lancaster County prosecutors allowed Nebraska volleyball star Lauren Cook to enter a diversion program after she was charged with leaving the scene of an injury accident. If Cook completes the one-year program, the felony charge would be removed from her record.
Cook sideswiped a motorcycle that was pulled off to the side of a street Oct. 30. The motorcycle driver suffered a broken leg and his passenger had cuts. Cook drove away, but called 911 eight minutes after the accident after her right tire blew out a half-mile away.
McQuinn said he can’t predict how the public will react to his decision on Caputo.
“The procedure and review and ultimate charging decision I made I have made in other cases and made with the same process — and they’ve involved people who have absolutely nothing that would make them noteworthy or draw media attention to themselves,” McQuinn said. “So each case is different and we review each case based on the case, not who the person is.”
Under state law, it is illegal to operate or be in physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
“Having the vehicle moving isn’t critical,” McQuinn said.
McQuinn said blood-alcohol content is considered when he decides to file charges, but so are the circumstances that led up to the police contacting the individual. McQuinn wouldn’t comment on the circumstances leading to Caputo’s arrest. Lincoln police records show no prior arrests for Caputo.
McQuinn said he had discussions with Dougherty before deciding on the charge.
“It’s not uncommon for attorneys to want to take a look at different cases, generally with an eye toward seeing if there could be a different charge,” he said.
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