University of Miami

DUI charge dropped against UM’s Mark Walton

The Miami-Dade state attorney’s office on Monday dropped all charges against UM running back Mark Walton.
The Miami-Dade state attorney’s office on Monday dropped all charges against UM running back Mark Walton. adiaz@miamiherald.com

UM reinstated Mark Walton off suspension on Monday evening, hours after the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office dropped all charges against the UM running back.

Walton was suspended indefinitely when he was arrested on April 23 for driving under the influence of alcohol and driving with a suspended license.

But Walton had been immersed in all team activities in recent weeks, according to multiple sources.

In spite of his suspension being lifted, UM declined to say whether it would discipline Walton any further, such as a suspension for any games.

Walton was arrested at 3:45 on the morning of April 23 in a residential neighborhood about four miles from campus and charged with DUI. WINZ-940 reported he also was investigated for impersonating an officer and groping a woman, but charges were never filed.

In an inter-office memo to the chief of county court on Monday, assistant state attorney Nicole Garcia wrote that Walton, at the time of arrest, “admitted to drinking two cups of beer approximately three hours prior to his arrest.” Garcia said the DUI charge was dropped because “the breath samples provided were all below the .08 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.”

Garcia said “had the Defendant’s breath reading been at a .08 or above, there would be a legal presumption that the Defendant was impaired. Had the Defendant provided a breath sample under a .05, there would be a legal presumption that the Defendant was not impaired. Because the Defendant provided a breath sample above a .05 but below a .08, there was no presumption of impairment.

“Because there is no legal presumption of impairment, more evidence would be needed to prove the Defendant was DUI at the time of the arrest. This evidence usually comes in the form of field sobriety exercises and observations by an officer or civilian witness.

The remaining evidence was insufficient to prove beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt that the Defendant was DUI.”

Garcia said the second charge, driving with a suspended license, was dismissed because of Walton’s “substantial compliance.” She said he paid the fine, but his license has not been reinstated and “any similarly situated defendant would have been afforded the same benefit.”

Walton’s attorney, Joey McCall, said by phone that “we are relieved the charges have been dismissed” but that it “should have been done a lot sooner.”

McCall said Walton’s reputation was unfairly damaged and Walton might pursue “civil remedies for wrongful arrest and malicious prosecution.”

Walton impressed coaches during spring practice and received considerable work with the first team. He’s competing with Joseph Yearby and Gus Edwards for the starting running back job.

As a freshman last season, Walton ran for 461 yards and nine touchdowns, though he averaged just 3.5 per carry. He also caught 22 passes for 293 yards and a touchdown and returned 17 kickoffs for 300 yards (17.6 average).

Miami Hurricanes' running back Mark Walton shows his stuff on the basketball court at Frances S. Tucker Elementary in Coconut Grove during a community service event on Thurs., May 26, 2016

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