The New Jersey State Police have reported that the former National Football League player Muhammad Wilkerson was taken into custody on drunk driving and drug possession charges following a routine traffic stop on Interstate 80 during the early morning hours of March 2. Wilkerson was drafted by the New York Jets in 2011, and he played with the team for seven years before signing with the Green Bay Packers in 2018. He has had legal issues in the past and is currently a free agent looking for a team.
A Routine Traffic Stop Escalates
Wilkerson’s latest legal troubles began when he was pulled over by a NJSP trooper on the westbound lanes of I-80 near Patterson at approximately 2:45 a.m. According to an official report, Wilkerson’s vehicle was stopped for speeding, failing to signal and moving between lanes in an unsafe manner. He was taken into custody when the trooper concluded that he was intoxicated, and marijuana and items used to consume marijuana were allegedly found in his car. Initial media reports do not indicate what led the trooper to determine that Wilkerson was operating a vehicle under the influence or describe the events that led to the alleged discovery of drugs and drug paraphernalia in his vehicle.
A Previous Offense
The incident does not mark the first time that Wilkerson has found himself facing legal charges because of drugs or alcohol. In July 2019, the Pro Bowl defensive end was charged with driving while intoxicated in New York City. According to the NYPD, Wilkerson had a blood alcohol concentration of .09 when he ran a stop sign in Washington Heights. The football star resolved the matter by entering into an agreement that saw him receive a three-month driving license suspension in return for a guilty plea.
Mitigating Factors in Plea Negotiations
Individuals who work in the public eye often pay an especially high price for drunk driving, and experienced criminal defense attorneys may point this out to prosecutors as they argue for more lenient treatment during plea discussions. Other mitigating factors that could sway prosecutors include sincere remorse, community work and a support network of friends and relatives.