Houston Rockets point guard Ty Lawson pleaded guilty on Thursday to driving while ability-impaired and failing to drive in a single lane in connection with his arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence in Colorado back in January.
Lawson, then a member of the Denver Nuggets, was stopped at 1:19 a.m. on Jan. 23, 2015, several hours after the conclusion of a a team charity event he'd attended, "while traveling 61 m.p.h. in a 35-m.p.h. zone," according to a Denver police report. Officers described Lawson's speech as slurred, his breath as having "a strong odor of an unknown alcoholic beverage," his eyes as "bloodshot/watery" and his balance as "swaying/stumbling," according to Kieran Nicholson and Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post. He did not have a valid form of identification, and he was "jailed at his request" after refusing to submit to a chemical test, according to police.
Three other charges stemming from the incident — counts of speeding 25 to 39 miles per hour over the speed limit, driving under the influence of alcohol, and careless driving — were dismissed, according to Jordan Steffen of the Denver Post.
A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 14, 2016. Lawson could receive probation or up to 180 days in jail. He's also subject to discipline from the NBA; other players and coaches who have entered guilty pleas in DUI-related cases have typically received two-game suspensions, though the fact that Lawson's DUI charge was dismissed could factor into the league's decision-making.
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Less than six months after his January arrest, Lawson was again arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, this time in Los Angeles, after California Highway Patrol officers spotted him speeding on the 101 freeway, stopped him and gave him a sobriety test that resulted in his detention. Three days later, he announced he planned to enter a private alcohol treatment program. (He'd later tell Yahoo Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski that he didn't think he'd have gone had it not been court-ordered, but that he "did take things from" his stay at Cliffside Malibu.) Five days after that, the Nuggets traded him to Houston in exchange for four players they'd later waive and a lottery-protected 2016 first-round draft pick.
Lawson, 28, began the season as the Rockets' starting point guard, lining up alongside MVP runner-up James Harden. He struggled to find his way with his new club, though, averaging 8.9 points, 5.6 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 36.2 minutes per game in his first 11 starts, while shooting just 33.3 percent from the floor, 27.3 percent from 3-point range and 67.6 percent from the free-throw line for a Houston club that opened up a disappointing 4-7, leading to the firing of head coach Kevin McHale on Wednesday.
Interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff moved Lawson to the bench for Wednesday's meeting with the Portland Trail Blazers. He scored just two points on 1-for-8 shooting in 20 minutes, and did not play after the third quarter in Houston's 108-103 overtime victory.
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