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When Seattle Seahawks coach Dennis Erickson was arrested for dru

April 26, 1995

KIRKLAND, Wash. (AP) _ When Seattle Seahawks coach Dennis Erickson was arrested for drunken driving less than two weeks ago, his blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit, officials said.

``It was a stupid thing to do,″ Erickson said at a news conference Tuesday. ``I have no excuses.″

Erickson was stopped April 15 on Interstate 5 near Marysville, north of Seattle. If convicted on a first DUI offense, Erickson faces a mandatory 24-hour jail stay, a fine of between $350 and $1,000, and a license suspension of up to 90 days.

``It was an awful mistake. I regret it,″ Erickson said. ``It’s embarrassing. I apologize to the organization, to this community. It’s been a tough learning process, and it’ll never happen again.

``All I can do is apologize.″

The arrest came four months after a car crash that left Seahawks lineman Mike Frier paralyzed from the waist down in what authorities say was an accident involving drinking.

Erickson was found to have a blood-alcohol level of .23, said Snohomish County deputy prosecutor James Townsend. A level of .10 is the legal threshold for intoxication in Washington state.

Arraignment was set for May 3.

The incident is ``disappointing and embarrassing″ for the team, Seahawks president David Behring said.

``He did something he shouldn’t have done,″ Behring said.

Erickson, 47, would not answer questions at the news conference, but said he had no similar incidents in his past. A Washington State Patrol spokesman said he knew of no other DUI citations in Washington for Erickson.

In the Dec. 1 crash, running backs Lamar Smith and Chris Warren were traveling with Frier in Smith’s car when it struck a utility pole near the team’s headquarters. Smith, who was driving, has been charged with vehicular assault. Prosecutors allege Smith was drunk and speeding.

Other alcohol-related problems involving the Seahawks:

_Cornerback Orlando Watters, who was cited Dec. 13 for driving while intoxicated, possessing marijuana and carrying a concealed knife.

_Former Seahawks defensive back Patrick Hunter, who pleaded guilty in January to his second drunken driving charge after his car hit a Bellevue Fire Department aid car and another vehicle. No one was injured.

The Seahawks hired Erickson from the University of Miami in January to replace Tom Flores, who was fired after Seattle went 14-34 during his three seasons.

The Seahawks have had four consecutive losing seasons and have not been in the playoffs since 1988.

Erickson, an Everett native, coached the Miami Hurricanes to two national championships and a 63-9 record in six seasons.

Erickson was traveling northbound on I-5 when his driving drew the attention of trooper Douglas Downey, patrol spokesman Lt. Ron O’Gwin said. The coach had left the highway by the time the trooper pulled him over. He was taken into custody for investigation at a convenience store in Marysville.

O’Gwin said Erickson was cooperative, and the coach was released on his own recognizance. O’Gwin said that is standard procedure.

``They called someone to come pick him up ... we try to make sure someone safe, sane and sober picks them up,″ O’Gwin said.

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