2-08-2001 BY GEOFF HOBSON
Bengals quarterback Akili Smith was arrested early Thursday morning for driving under the influence of alcohol and charged with a misdemeanor in his hometown of San Diego.
Smith, 25, was booked at 2:03 a.m. in the San Diego Center Jail. He was released on $1,600 bail about 12 hours later after driving the wrong way down a one-way street, according to San Diego radio station XTRA-690.
He is to appear in San Diego Superior Court March 1 and faces NFL sanctions only if he is found guilty or admits guilt.
It's been a rocky year for Smith, the club's franchise quarterback who lost his starting job to Scott Mitchell last year 10 games into his second season. Although head coach Dick LeBeau has declared all 22 starting spots up for grabs, there have been indications the Bengals are trying to make it work for Smith here as new offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski puts together a new playbook.
Ray Smith, Akili's father, spoke with Bengals President Mike Brown late Thursday afternon and said he regretted what happened.
"We're still trying to put together what happened and get the particulars," Ray Smith said.
Akili Smith told bengals.com last week he's anxious to get started with Bratkowski and is ready to come to Cincinnati when the coaches want him.
Since this is Smith's first legal problem with alcohol while playing in the NFL, he most likely won't be suspended.
League policy says, "Absent aggravating circumstances, discipline for a first offense will generally be a fine of one-half of one-seventeenth (1/17) of (a player's salary) to a maximum of $20,000."
Smith, who received $10.8 million to sign as the third pick in the 1999 NFL Draft, is scheduled to make the minimum $394,000 salary for three-year players. He also could be eligible for a counseling program.
"The club is aware of the report that Akili Smith was arrested early today," said Jack Brennan, the Bengals public relations director. "If the information is accurate, this is a matter that Akili will have to handle with the proper authorities. It is the club's policy not to comment further on legal charges until such matters are resolved in the courts."