Fitz Pleads Guilty of Operating While Visibly Impaired

Submitted by Frank Drebin on August 28th, 2012 at 2:32 PM

Pleads down from OWI. You would have to figure this is the day Hoke was waiting on to make the final say in whether or not he plays. After pleading down, I have to think he is going to play. the crime was committed in July, and he has had nearly 1 1/2 months to pay the price, along with having to suffer the legal consequences. I would be surprised if we don't see Fitz on the field at some point on Saturday.



August 28th, 2012 at 2:45 PM ^

I will be very disappointed in Brady Hoke if Fitz plays.  This is Michigan and you are held to a higher standard.  I don't care about the semantics of what he was charged with/what he plead to.  You can make him run the Big House stairs a thousand times but it won't match the agony of standing there in street clothes watching his team play in what would have been the biggest game of his life.  And when we likely lose, he will have to live with that for the rest of his career.  DUIs are not something to mess around with, and he needs to pay the price and feel it for a long time.

Wettin 3's

August 28th, 2012 at 2:56 PM ^

I agree that he should be punished..but you make it sound like he killed a child, and that he should be embarassed in front of 100,000 people. At least let him wear his jersey, if he did something worth wearing street clothes at a game, he would have been kicked off the team by now. I hope he has learned his lesson and regained Hoke's trust over the summer. We are pretty fucked if he doesn't  play, and that 14 point spread might look about right in the end.


August 28th, 2012 at 9:07 PM ^

be screwed if doesn't play? We have heard very good things about Rawls, I wouldn't automatically assume that he won't be able to provide anything if he plays in Fitz's place. Given how strong Alabama's run defense is I doubt which ever RB plays is going to have a huge game anyways, winning the game will most likely come down to making some plays in the passing game and the D be able to control the Alabama running game. If they do those things I think they will at least give themselves a chance to win, with or without Fitz.

Put me down in the camp that believes Fitz shouldn't play, regardless of the charge being pleaded down to an OWI. At the end of the day he was still driving drunk, a tone needs to be set that no player on the team is above the law, regardless of who the opponent is. The only reason this is even being debated so heavily is because of the opponent.

Sten Carlson

August 28th, 2012 at 7:49 PM ^

"DUIs are not something to mess around with, and he needs to pay the price and feel it for a long time."

Feel it for a long time?  C'mon.  The guy is going to fined, his license is going to be suspended, has to do community service, and his insurance rates are going to go up, all for a "victimless crime."  He's going to feel it, don't you worry.  Not to mention all the extra stairs and such that Hoke made him do.

I hope all you guys don't fall from your high horses, cuz that ground is a long way down, and it's going to hurt.

I take DUI's seriously, but I don't think that the kid deserves any more punishment than that which is going to be handed down by the Justice System.  All this, "we're Michigan"  "higher standard" crap, is just that, CRAP.  What it really is is your own self not wanting to have to hear it from Sparty friends and such.  He didn't hurt anybody.  Yes, he could have, but I have a legal issue with punishing people for potential harms.


August 28th, 2012 at 2:45 PM ^

Here is how the law works in Michigan cuz im a Officer. It still counts as a just lesser fines. Three in a lifetime is a felony. He gets a automatic 3 month suspensionon on his license. If he got popped in Oakland County he would get 30 days without question. We wont see jail in Washtenaw


August 28th, 2012 at 2:54 PM ^

I appreciate your perspective, but I don't agree that "he would get 30 days without question" in Oakland County. I know people in Oakland County who had much higher BACs, plead down to an OWVI and served zero jail time. There are certainly judges who would punish such offenders with 30 days, but I don't think it is the standard or norm across the county.


August 28th, 2012 at 2:45 PM ^

But Hoke already said today's actions wouldn't affect his availability.

Plea or not, I'd bet he sits for at least a half, and probably for the whole game.


August 28th, 2012 at 2:45 PM ^

Here is how the law works in Michigan cuz im a Officer. It still counts as a just lesser fines. Three in a lifetime is a felony. He gets a automatic 3 month suspensionon on his license. If he got popped in Oakland County he would get 30 days without question. We wont see jail in Washtenaw


August 28th, 2012 at 2:45 PM ^

As long as Fitz has done everything Hoke has asked, and he has I don't see the point in arbitrarily suspending him for a game. If this happened in February would you still suspend him for the opener? Or does the amount of time he has had to "prove" himself determine if he should play? If that is the case than in season DUI would be a season suspension since you are saying it takes 8+ weeks to fully prove yourself.


August 28th, 2012 at 3:27 PM ^

Agreed. Suspensions are used so often because they are much bigger punishments than just having a guy run stairs. I feel like a lot of people around here are trying to rationalize playing Fitz, but if this were ND or MSU doing the same thing we would all be jumping down their throats.


August 28th, 2012 at 2:46 PM ^

Driving while visually impaired  -->  Driving while blind  -->  Arrested for driving while blind  --> ZZ Top --> Elliott Mealer could be in ZZ Top with that beard

wait... what are we talking about? 



August 28th, 2012 at 2:50 PM ^

just think if we're going to be teetotalers , we also shouldn't promote drinking w/ "what r u drinking on saturday night threads, etc."

obviously, drinking "AND DRIVING" is different than drinking, but i still feel like the messages appear a little mixed; i.e., it's great to boast about drinking, but it's an unfathomable crime to drive after drinking a few....

i know i'm going to get a lot of negs for this.... but that's my 2 cents.

i, for one, am not drinking this saturday... i want to watch michigan win clear-eyed and i don't want to miss a single yard gained.


August 28th, 2012 at 3:37 PM ^

i mean, i obviously understand the difference between (A) Drinking and (B) Drinking AND DRIVING.

But, if we're really being honest with ourselves, why should we (1) pat ourselves on our backs when our noble student-athletes drive while having a BAC of 0.07 (which is legal in Michigan) and (2) ridicule the sophomoric behaviors of these unworthy kids when they drive with a BAC of 0.09 (which is illegal in Michigan).

Is it because we so value the BAC thresholds that our praiseworthy state legislators have chosen for us (based on their rigorous scientific research)?

....  i know i'm being a little sarcastic, and i apologize, but if we're really frowning upon drinking (above a certain level) and driving, then let's just be honest with ourselves and say, don't drink, period. 


August 28th, 2012 at 5:30 PM ^

(1) He had a BAC of .12, 50% higher than the legal limit.

(2) The limit was .10 until about 10 years ago, when they changed it to .08 based on statistics showing that the chance of getting into an accident went up significantly between .08 and 1.0, so there is a difference statistically significant difference between .07 and .09. Honestly, it was lowered to .08 because there is such a low chance that something will happen at that level and, when I heard that he blew a .08, I was ready to let it slide because he probably wouldn't have even felt it at that point. However, when I found out that the .08 was his second test at the station and he blew a .12 after getting pulled over, I decided he had to either know he was drunk or have such a high tolerance to alcohol that he couldn't tell, in which case, he needs help.

(3) It takes more than a few drinks to get to .12% BAC. At his weight, he would have had to consume ~6 standard drinks in the half hour timespan before driving to achieve that. Add one more standard drink for every hour that he was drinking. No one should be driving after a 6 pack.

(4) He needs to know what it feels like to let everyone around him down because next time, if there is a next time, he won't be getting off the hook so easily with the law or with the coach. Stonum got lots of leniency because of the coaching transition and the punishments didn't seem to get through to him. You need to make it hurt the first time around enough that he will not do it again. This is only a learning experience for him if they take the opportunity to make it one.


August 29th, 2012 at 12:24 AM ^

The formula used to estimate BAC. Plugging in his numbers, I came up with .12 BAC being ~5.4 standard drinks without subtracting any time. Add in another half of a standard drink and a half hour to consume them (one standard drink per hour) and you get ~6 standard drinks in a half hour.


August 28th, 2012 at 6:10 PM ^

I'm not trying to debate the science behind the thresholds (because I don't know).  But, I just feel like we're getting hung up on the fact that he had one drink too much or two drinks too much, etc.  I think someone who drives with a 0.07 BAC level sounds somewhat dangerous and perhaps, 30 minutes ago, he had a 0.10 BAC, etc. 

In addition, as background, apparently Fitz drank VSOP Brandy (according to an ESPN article that I read) and not beer.  If your 6 "drinks" math is correct (and it seems close based on a 200 lb person according to this wikipedia article, it sounds like Fitz had approximately 9 oz of brandy.

Therefore, Fitz drank slightly more than a cup (i.e., equivalent to 8 oz) of liquor and started driving.

I don't know if that's any better than drinking 6 beers, but I also don't think I would feel comfortable with someone driving after drinking half a cup of brandy (holding all else equal).

Hoke will discipline him.

His parents will discipline him.

But at the end of the day, it's up to Fitz to learn what's the right way to be an upstanding citizen and a Michigan Man!


August 28th, 2012 at 7:02 PM ^

Actually there's very little difference between the risk of crashing at .08 and .12 BAC. The .08 is an arbitrary number that makes people like MADD feel like they're stopping drunk driving (it used to be .10). The risks go up quickly at 2 beers then level off until around .125 according the NHTSA.

South TX MFan

August 28th, 2012 at 8:32 PM ^

Yes Fitz will have to decide for himself what's right and wrong, just like everyone else. I just think it's going overboard to say since you shouldn't drink and drive then you shouldn't drink at all. It'd be like saying, since I can't fire a gun into a random group of people I can't shoot at a gun range either.


August 28th, 2012 at 2:54 PM ^

 hoke said that the ruling wont change his decision and that you have to make the decision based on the program and not this team. cant find the quotes right now but anyway, i doubt he will play.


August 28th, 2012 at 2:58 PM ^

Operating while visibly impaired is usually what OWI's get plead down to. It isn't much of a break at all.  It is a drunk driving no matter how you slice it.  It allows him to get a restricted license quicker and is 4 points instead of 6 on his drivers license.  if he picks up a second one, the visibly impaired constitues a prior conviction which subjects him to enhanced penalties.

In my opinion, Hoke has to sit him down this week.


August 28th, 2012 at 3:05 PM ^

I'm so mad at Fitz for not only doing an incredibly stupid thing endagering his own life and the lives of others but for putting us in this endless position of will he play / will he not play / should he play / debate.

It was fun to watch other programs go through this.  Old Purple face down in South Bend released a statement last summer that Michael Floyd had paid the price for multiple DUI's and then he went on to play in every single game.  Dantonio will allow all players to go straight from the jail cell to the playing field.  Les Miles didn't suspend any of the several key players last year for their big opener against Oregon after they were in a huge bar brawl the previous week.  He then made them sit out the following game against Northwestern State. 

I'd like to think we're above those kinds of coaches when it comes to ethics.  So if (big if) Fitz sees any playing time against Bama, I'm guessing he won't start the first half.  It's either that or nothing.  But I'm leaning more towards nothing. 


August 28th, 2012 at 3:13 PM ^

Just for the sake of argument, what makes Michigan "above" the schools you've named? During my time at Michigan I did not see football players behaving in ways that exemplified being above much at all.  I love Michigan football, but the idea that Michigan is somehow "above" any ill-defined notion of elevated civic decorum is, in my opinion, erroneous.


August 28th, 2012 at 3:21 PM ^

It's the Michigan Man thing that people always harp on about. The University prides itself on molding the young men on the football team into not only better athletes, but better people as well. Some of the schools listed above do not hold their teams to the same standards. 


August 28th, 2012 at 3:08 PM ^

I don't think he should miss a snap.  If he would have committed the crime during the season then he should miss a game or two.  This happened during his summer break.  Besides,  there are other ways of punishing him. 

no joke its hoke

August 28th, 2012 at 3:11 PM ^

Not to say what he did wasn't stupid,well very stupid but didn't he blow about the amount of 3-4 beers? I still think he should sit and would be fine with him sitting till the ND game.


August 28th, 2012 at 3:25 PM ^

After reading Hoke's comments I think he has to sit him for the entire game. Sitting him for a half would be gutless, worse than just starting him. Either he sits or plays, serve one master or the other.


August 28th, 2012 at 3:26 PM ^

I think the legal system's punishment is enough for Fitz, but I do think that Brady Hoke needs to sit him for at least a series for violating "team rules."  

I know that any form of drunk driving is considered a terrible crime right now because of the potential for injury, but shoulda, woulda, and coulda don't apply here.  The bottom line is that nobody was hurt, the legal system will make him pay, and he has had to jump through a lot of hoops to get back on the team.  

AFAIC, he doesn't need any more punishment than a symbolic gesture to promote team discipline and send a message to the public.  A series or a quarter would be enough to do that.

If there was a second offense, though, I think a year off would be appropriate, because it would then be a major discipline problem as opposed to someone not realizing he was too drunk to pass a BAL test.



August 28th, 2012 at 4:04 PM ^

This makes sense to me. It's a nod to the fact that he screwed up, but sitting the entire game doesn't seem justified.  If he screws up again to this degree, then by all means make him sit a year or worse.  However, as you and others have indicated, this seems more like a one time screw up and he paid his dues by doing whatever he’s being doing since the incident.  Additionally, I don’t think the football program will be chastised for not suspending him for a game, legally he didn’t even get a DUI.  The belief that Michigan players must be held to a higher standard is being over played here in my opinion.


August 28th, 2012 at 3:37 PM ^

As an Alum if Fitz plays, I WILL BE SO HAPPY!    Start Rawls and then put in Fitz.   He's in the dog-house already, but let's go onwards with life.  Life sucks as it is, no need to make it worse.  Move


Let's win this dag game.  Roll over the Tide!  


I also want to see Pipkins jamming up the middle!


Go Blue!