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Originally published July 17, 2012 at 12:03 PM | Page modified July 18, 2012 at 11:37 AM

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Marshawn Lynch's DUI arrest could lead to criminal charges, plus punishment from NFL

Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch was pulled over at 3:20 a.m. Saturday in Oakland, Calif. After his performance on field-sobriety tests, Lynch was arrested on suspicion of DUI.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Marshawn Lynch was pulled over early Saturday morning in Oakland, Calif., while driving a white Ford van.

A California Highway Patrolman said he observed the van swerving out of its lane, nearly colliding with two vehicles, precipitating the traffic stop that led to Lynch's arrest on suspicion of DUI.

Those are the facts of Lynch's arrest. The consequences, however, remain uncertain not only in terms of a criminal charge, but also with regard to NFL discipline.

Lynch was cited and released from jail Saturday. The Alameda County District Attorney must review the report from the highway patrol and decide whether to pursue a charge. Lynch has a preliminary court date scheduled for Aug. 14.

The timetable for determining whether there will be punishment from the NFL is not nearly so straightforward. A DUI arrest — and even a conviction — doesn't generally result in an NFL suspension, but Lynch also has a history that will be considered. Commissioner Roger Goodell has made the enforcement of the league's personal-conduct policy his personal mission, which means Lynch's punishment, if any, will come down to the commissioner's conclusions.

And there's a wide range of reactions Goodell could have. He could see Lynch as a repeat offender, given his previous three-game suspension because of a misdemeanor weapons conviction. Or the commissioner could focus on Lynch's more recent history. Lynch has stayed out of trouble for 3 ½ years since the weapons incident and on Thursday he joined his cousin, 49ers quarterback Joshua Johnson, in awarding a scholarship to a Bay Area high-school student who was a gunshot victim.

Goodell could wait to see if Lynch is charged with a crime, but the commissioner has also made it clear that avoiding a criminal conviction does not necessarily mean a player escapes league punishment. Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was suspended two years ago after he was investigated — but never charged — for sexual assault.

The Seahawks have not commented on Lynch's case other than to say they are aware of the situation and gathering information. Lynch's lawyer did not return a message Tuesday, and the Alameda County District Attorney had not begun reviewing the case as of Tuesday morning.

It's too soon to do anything more than speculate about what might happen, and the danger of that kind of speculation was illustrated earlier this year when another Seahawk with a criminal history and a previous league suspension was arrested.

Linebacker Leroy Hill was arrested in Georgia for marijuana possession in February. It was his third arrest in three years, coming after a drug-possession charge in 2009 and an assault charge in 2010. Hill was suspended by the league for the 2010 season opener, and when he became a free agent after this most recent arrest, many assumed he would not be back with the Seahawks.

But Hill faced no charges, submitting to a drug test to show he had not consumed any of the drugs police alleged were in his apartment. Hill then re-signed with the team, demonstrating that an arrest is not the final word in a criminal-justice proceeding.

And only the bare facts of Lynch's arrest have become public. He was pulled over at 3:21 a.m. on Saturday after an officer observed "objective signs of intoxication." Lynch submitted to a preliminary breath test after the stop, was arrested and underwent another breath test as he was booked into the North County Jail. The California Highway Patrol does not release results of the tests to determine blood alcohol content.

What happens next will be determined not only in court, but by the commissioner.

Former Seahawks center dies

Former NFL offensive lineman Grant Feasel, who played for the Seahawks from 1987 to 1992, died Sunday. He was 52.

A service for Feasel is scheduled Friday at Legacy Church of Christ in North Richland Hills, Texas. The cause of death hasn't been revealed.

Feasel was drafted in the sixth round in 1983 by Baltimore out of Abilene Christian. He played 117 games over eight NFL seasons for four teams, most of them in Seattle, where the center started every game in 1989 and 1990, and all 15 games he played in 1991.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or

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