DUI the latest

CINCINNATI – Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Odell Thurman, already suspended for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, was arrested early yesterday on a drunken driving charge, police said.

Thurman, with one game left on a four-game NFL suspension, registered 0.18 percent on a blood-alcohol test, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent, police said. He was arrested just after 3 a.m., police said.

Police Capt. Dan Gerard said an officer working near a DUI checkpoint on the city’s east side saw Thurman drive a sport utility vehicle across a double yellow line and stopped him. Thurman was with two other Bengals, but police declined to release their identities.

However, rookie receiver Reggie McNeal told The Associated Press that he and receiver Chris Henry were in the vehicle with Thurman. He declined to go into detail about what happened. Neither player was charged.

“Just a misunderstanding,” McNeal said, as he left Paul Brown Stadium yesterday afternoon.

Thurman was taken to the checkpoint, being operated by police and the State Highway Patrol, and given a breath test, Gerard said.

Gerard said Thurman was released to a companion who was sober to drive him home. A court appearance was scheduled for Oct. 2, the day he is eligible to return to the team.

If convicted, Thurman could get a tougher sentence because of the high blood-alcohol level, patrol Sgt. Jon Payer said. The average sentence for a first-time offender in Ohio is three days in jail or an alcohol-education program and a $500 fine, he said.

A second-round draft pick out of Georgia last year, Thurman led the Bengals in tackles and had five interceptions, helping Cincinnati reach the playoffs with its first winning record since 1990.