Legal analysis: What happens next for Tiger Woods after DUI arrest?
This story originally appeared on PEOPLE.com.
Tiger Woods had no alcohol in his system when he was arrested for DUI early Monday morning, according to multiple published reports, and the golf legend said in a statement that the incident was the result of an “unexpected reaction to prescribed medications.”
So, what does that mean legally for the embattled athlete?
Woods, 41, was arrested in Jupiter, Florida, after police found him asleep at the wheel with several pain medications — including vicodin — in his system, according to a police report cited by ABC News and other outlets.
A legal expert says similar situations happen relatively frequently.
“It’s much more common than people think,” Georgia-based criminal justice attorney William C. Head tells PEOPLE. “But when people have something like this happen to them, they just walk in and plead guilty. You might not ever even know you were driving.”
According to the report, Woods’ speech was “slow, sluggish, very slurred” when he was found. He “stated that he did not know where he was” and “changed his story of where he was going and where he was coming from.”
Head says the scenario is familiar: “This happens thousands of times every year. The person is just like a sleepwalker. They’re out doing things that they’re not aware of. Even when you wake them up, they won’t remember what they did.”
Woods was arrested and charged with DUI, but released on his own recognizance at 10:50 a.m., according to booking records. It is unclear whether he has entered a plea.
In a statement following the arrest, Woods said: “I didn’t realize the mix of medications had affected me so strongly.”
Head says that the cocktail of pain medications likely left Woods in a “somnambulant condition” and “he was not able to function in a normal way.”
The expert adds that if Woods decides to fight the charge, a major factor in the case would be the amount of drugs in his system at the time of the incident.
“Those levels are gonna be critical because if he took the therapeutic dose — in other words, he took what he was supposed to — that’s an explanation of how he got there,” Head tells PEOPLE. “If he’s going to argue not knowing that he’s driving, that [could help his] defense.”
In a statement following the arrest, Woods said that “alcohol was not involved,” and the report indicates that two breathalyzer tests registered a .000 blood alcohol content.
“I would like to apologize with all my heart to my family, friends and the fans. I expect more from myself too. I will do everything in my power to ensure this never happens again,” the statement continued. “I fully cooperated with law enforcement, and I would like to personally thank the representatives of the Jupiter Police Department and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s office for their professionalism.”
However, Head says the comments could hurt Woods’ case, should he decide to fight the DUI charge.
“It’s a mea culpa statement, and it implies that he knew what he was doing,” he tells PEOPLE.