Illini basketball player Jamar Smith taken to jail


Smith Jenette Sturges

By Sky Opila

Illinois basketball player Jamar Smith was taken to jail early Thursday afternoon to serve a two week sentence after pleading guilty to aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol, a Class 4 felony, stemming from an incident on Feb. 12.

The deal, worked out between Smith’s attorney Mark Lipton and Assistant State’s Attorney Lindsey Clark, dismissed the second charge of failure to report an accident.

In addition to the two weeks in a Champaign County Jail, Smith will be on probation for two years, during which time he will be subject to random drug and alcohol testing. He is also ordered to complete 100 hours of community service, pay roughly $1,000 in fines and, based on the recommendation from his drug and alcohol evaluation performed by Accent Counseling, he must complete 75 hours of substance abuse treatment.

Smith will also attend a panel discussion for the victim’s of DUI.

“That’s a reasonable resolution of this sort of DUI case,” said State’s Attorney Julia Rietz. “Based on his history and the circumstances, it’s a typical resolution of this type of DUI case in Champaign County.”

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Smith’s driver’s license will also be revoked for at least 18 months, Rietz said.

“We will need time to examine the facts and work with Ron Guenther and the University administration to bring closure to this situation,” Coach Bruce Weber said in a statement. “I will have no further comment to make regarding this situation at this time.”

Smith’s grandparents were in court with him Thursday but would not make any comment to the media.

On the night of Feb. 12, Smith and teammate Brian Carlwell, among others, had been drinking tequila and beer at College Fields Apartments on South First Street in Champaign. The pair left the apartments after 11:00 p.m., and, while going south on First Street, Smith lost control of the vehicle and hit a tree.

The impact was on the passenger side of the vehicle, where Carlwell was sitting. Smith then left the scene of the accident and returned to the College Field Apartments, according to a press release from the State’s Attorney’s office.

Witnesses saw the pair return with damage to the vehicle and called police. Carlwell was rushed to the hospital with bruises on his brain.

“I sincerely apologize for my actions, and for the negative light that I have brought to my family, friends, the University and the basketball program,” Smith said in a statement. “What I did not only put myself in harms way, but I also put a teammate and anyone else that was on the road that night in danger.”

According to court record, Smith’s drug and alcohol evaluation found that before being arrested, Smith reported typically consuming a pint of Jose Cuervo tequila three times a week. On the night of the accident, Smith reported consuming an unknown amount of tequila over a period of three to four hours; his blood alcohol level was .176.

The evaluation also found Smith to be a high risk for alcohol dependence and stress coping abilities. It was also discovered he was a significant risk as a driver and a medium risk as a drug user after he reported secondary use of marijuana.

“I can’t go back in time and make it go away, but I can do something about it from this point on, and that is why I will do everything in my power to make sure that nothing like this happens again,” Smith said in the statement. “Since the accident I have become a better person, friend and teammate. My goals are to obtain my college degree, speak to teens and schools all over Champaign-Urbana and Peoria about my experience so they can learn from my mistake, and be an advocate for student-athletes against drunk driving.”