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Bills’ Smith Cleared on Key Charge

March 31, 1998

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) _ A judge dismissed a drunken driving charge Monday against Buffalo Bills defensive end Bruce Smith but upheld a charge that Smith refused to take a blood-alcohol test.

Circuit Judge Frederick B. Lowe suspended Smith’s driver’s license for 12 months for refusing to take the blood test last July when he was found passed out in the driver’s seat of his car at an intersection.

The conviction will not affect Smith’s driving record, said his attorney, Larry Cardon.

Smith refused to comment following the hearing, an appeal of convictions on both charges during a Sept. 2 trial in General District Court.

Lowe said prosecutors failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Smith was intoxicated when officer Alison Fletcher found him sitting behind the wheel of his Mercedes Benz.

Lowe noted that Smith did ``fairly well″ on two field sobriety tests administered by the officer.

Smith said he passed out because he suffers from sleep apnea, a condition that interrupts breathing while people sleep. Sufferers often fall asleep at unusual times.

Smith testified that he consumed about four beers and a glass of wine on the night before his arrest while celebrating the last night before returning to training camp.

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