Tampa Bay Lightning’s Ryan Malone Arrested for DUI and Cocaine Possession

Finebloom, Haenel & Higgins

On the night of April 12, 2013, police spotted Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ryan Malone driving his SUV when he made a left turn and hit a curb.  When pulled over, a police officer reported that Malone smelled strongly of alcohol.  Malone refused to take a field sobriety test and was arrested.  When he was being searched, a 1.3-gram bag of cocaine was found.  Malone was arrested for DUI and cocaine possession.  Two breathalyzers taken by police at the station showed that Malone’s BAC was .112 and .116, over the legal limit of .08. 

While both charges are quite serious, Malone faces a more serious penalty for the possession than he does for the drinking and driving.  The drinking and driving charge is a misdemeanor, one for which he is facing a small fine and up to 6 months in jail, along with temporary license revocation.  However, for the cocaine possession, Malone is being charged with a third degree felony

Possession of any drug, with the exception of marijuana, is at least a third degree felony, although the charge can vary depending on the amount of the drug and if it was meant to be sold.  For possession of less than 28 grams of regular cocaine (not crack cocaine) someone has to have less than 28 grams of the drug on them to be charged with the lowest cocaine possession charge.   This would be a third degree felony, meaning that the potential sentence is up to five years in prison and fines along with a two-year driver’s license revocation. 

This is basically the same for other drugs such as meth, heroin or prescriptions drugs not prescribed by a doctor, although the minimum amounts of these drugs needed to get a third degree felony, as opposed to a lower charge, is different depending on the drug.  Marijuana possession is different in that it is a misdemeanor for possession of less than 20 grams, bringing a sentence of up to a year in jail, fines and license revocation.

There are the possibilities of other penalties as well because of the player’s contract he has with the NHL.  Under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and pro hockey players, Malone will have to be evaluated for substance abuse issues and may have to follow a treatment plan.  Failure to follow this plan could put his career with the NHL in jeopardy.