Freshman University of Miami running back Mark Walton was arrested in Miami early Saturday morning and charged with driving under the influence, police said.
Walton, who turned 19 last month, was also charged with driving with a license he knew was suspended. He was promptly suspended from the football team.
According to an arrest report, Miami police reached Walton at about 3:45 a.m. on a residential street about four miles northeast of UM’s campus in Coral Gables. He was in the driver’s seat. Police noticed “that he had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his mouth, that his eyes were watery and bloodshot, and that when he spoke he slurred his words.”
“Also, when the defendant exited the vehicle, he almost lost his balance walking to the back of his vehicle,” the report says.
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Walton failed the portion of the sobriety test in which he was asked to walk in a straight line. Once his breath was tested at the police station, however, his alcohol level was .059 and .060, both below the legal limit of .08 for adults. However, the limit for drivers under 21 is .02.
A police spokeswoman, Kenia Fallat, said officers saw Walton while they were conducting an investigation, and suspected he was drunk. She wouldn’t give any details about that investigation. A source with knowledge of the incident told the Miami Herald that Walton was suspected of impersonating a police officer, and using the status to flirt with at least one woman.
“We are aware of the situation regarding Mark Walton and we have taken immediate action by suspending him from the team,’’ UM athletic director Blake James said in a statement. “We have no further comment at this time.’’
Walton, who attended Booker T. Washington High School in Miami, was designated the first-team running back by new UM coach Mark Richt.
Last season, Walton played in all 13 games and rushed for 461 yards and scored nine touchdowns on 130 carries. He also caught 22 passes for 292 yards and a touchdown. He ended the season second on the team with 1,054 all-purpose yards.
Walton is the fourth UM player to be arrested in the past couple of months. Arrested on March 9 on misdemeanor charges of resisting an officer without violence in Miami Beach were offensive linemen Trevor Darling and Jahair Jones. They are still on the team.
Former UM kicker Jon Semerene was arrested in a DUI incident in Coral Gables on March 18. Richt dismissed him from the team.
Miami Herald staff writers Monique O. Madan and Charles Rabin contributed to this report.