CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Chapel Hill police arrested UNC basketball player Ty Lawson early Friday after stopping a car he was driving and determining he had been drinking, they said.
The arrest report
lists Lawson's charge as "provisional licensee," which indicates that he was found to be driving after consuming alcohol. Because Lawson is under 21, the typical DWI laws – which define an unlawful level of alcohol consumption – do not apply. There is no legal amount that a person under 21 can drink.
The section of law that police cited in charging Lawson is titled "driving by person less than 21 years old after consuming alcohol or drugs." It states that anyone under 21 cannot drive "while consuming alcohol or at any time while he has remaining in his body any alcohol or controlled substance previously consumed...."
Police stopped the sophomore at about 2:30 a.m. on North Columbia Street after hearing loud music coming from his 2005 Chevrolet, authorities said. Lawson took a roadside breath test. which registered .03.
He was also charged with violating a city noise ordinance and driving with a suspended or revoked license.
A spokeswoman with the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles said Lawson, who has a Maryland driver's license, lost his driving privileges in November after he failed to show up to court for a May 2007 speeding violation.
According to his driving record, Lawson was also charged with driving without a license on May 12 in his home state of Maryland.
Steve Kirschner, with UNC's sports information department, said the university would "not comment until after the case goes through the legal process" and that "neither coach [Roy] Williams nor Ty Lawson will issue a statement" until Lawson's case was heard.
Lawson is one of three UNC-Chapel Hill basketball players who have entered their names in the NBA draft pool. They have until June 16 to make a final decision before the June 26 draft.
He told WRAL in a May 28 interview that he had a target in mind and would like to be assured of a top-20 spot in the draft before making any kind of permanent decision on staying in the draft.
Marty Blake, the NBA’s director of scouting, said from his office in Alpharetta, Ga., that he projects Lawson as a first-round pick, and the arrest will not affect Lawson’s status.
“It’s not going to make any difference. I think this is an isolated case,” Blake said.
Blake said many NBA clubs are looking for point guards and praised Lawson’s quickness and overall ability.
“I think he’d be drafted in the first round. He is a very good basketball player. He has very good speed,” Blake said.