Johns again arrested on marijuana charge

Incident at toll plaza 2nd involving O's pitcher

October 09, 1999|By Douglas Birch | Douglas Birch,SUN STAFF

The Orioles baseball season ended as it began for pitcher Doug Johns, with the left-hander arrested in his Jeep Grand Cherokee on a marijuana charge.

Johns was driving northbound on the Francis Scott Key Bridge yesterday morning when he was delayed at the toll plaza because he didn't have the $1 toll. He earns $300,000 a year.

Maryland Transportation Authority police arrested Johns after he allegedly blocked traffic and a police drug specialist decided Johns showed signs of marijuana intoxication. The ballplayer, 31, refused to submit to a blood test for the drug, said authority spokeswoman Lori Vidil.

His arrest came five days after the Orioles' last game of the season. He ended 1999 with a 6-4 record and a 4.47 ERA.

Johns' earlier brush with the law came April 5, after the Orioles' season-opening win over Tampa Bay. Police said the pitcher ran a red light at East Lombard and Gay streets, and a search of his vehicle turned up a small amount of marijuana.

He was charged with driving under the influence and marijuana possession. His trial in Baltimore District Court has been delayed twice. It is scheduled Nov. 4.

Scott D. Shellenberger, Johns' attorney, said last night that neither he nor his client would comment on the latest allegations.

After he couldn't pay the toll, Johns was asked to pull over and sign a paper promising to mail the $1, but he did not clear the traffic lanes, said Vidil.

An officer thought he detected alcohol on Johns' breath, she said, but Johns refused to take a field sobriety test. Johns was arrested and given a breath alcohol test, which was negative. An officer trained to detect the effects of drugs examined him and asked him to submit to a blood test. He refused, Vidil said.

Johns was charged with driving under the influence of marijuana and obstructing a roadway.

His driver's license was confiscated and he was given papers to apply for a temporary one. Under the law, refusing a blood test could result in the suspension of his license for up to 120 days.

Last month, team officials and Johns gave conflicting accounts of why he failed to join the team in Anaheim at the start of a nine-game road trip. The Orioles said he was excused for "personal reasons" related to a recurrence of severe insomnia.

Johns said he had returned to his Florida home to attend to a family matter. Club officials denied that Johns' problems were drug-related.

A number of players and club officials said they were concerned by Johns' behavior at the end of the season. His typically reserved personality changed to clubhouse cut-up, as he played air guitar and dived onto the wet tarp during a rain delay.

Sun staff writer Roch Kubatko contributed to this article.

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