File photo shows Tennessee Titans quarterback Chris Simms during practice,...

File photo shows Tennessee Titans quarterback Chris Simms during practice, in Nashville, Tenn. (May 25, 2010) Credit: AP

Tennessee Titans backup quarterback Chris Simms, 29, pleaded not guilty Thursday afternoon to charges that he was driving while impaired by drugs and operating a motor vehicle while impaired.

Simms, the son of former Giants quarterback and current CBS NFL analyst Phil Simms, was arrested at 1:03 a.m. Thursday in lower Manhattan with his eight-months-pregnant wife, Danielle, sitting next to him in the car.

According to the police report, the arrest took place at a DWI checkpoint on West Houston Street. The arresting officer said he "smelled a strong odor of marijuana emanating from the defendant's breath and clothing" and observed that he had watery and bloodshot eyes, a flushed face and slurred speech and was unsteady on his feet.

The report said Simms admitted to the arresting officer, "I was smoking marijuana earlier." Simms refused a Breathalyzer test at the time of the arrest. Simms' wife was not charged, and the couple's 2009 Mercedes-Benz was turned over to her.

During the arraignment, Simms' attorney, Nathan Semmel, denied the allegation of marijuana use and said the athlete admitted only to smoking cigarettes. "What he told the police was that he smoked cigarettes, and there are witnesses who heard that conversation with the police," Semmel said when contacted by Newsday. "He never told the police that he smoked marijuana.

"When all the facts come out, it's going to be very apparent. With his wife, who is eight months pregnant, seated next to him in the car, it's absurd to think that she would allow him to drive in an intoxicated state. He would never do it, and there's nothing in his history that would ever suggest he would do something like that. The facts will also show there were other people in the car."

Semmel said two passengers, who were not named, were in the car at the time of Simms' arrest. During the court proceeding, the attorney suggested those two passengers should be investigated to determine if they were responsible for the marijuana odor. When asked by Newsday if Simms' wife would permit anyone else to smoke marijuana in the car, Semmel said, "There was no marijuana smoking in the car by anyone."

The misdemeanor charge carries a maximum penalty of 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Simms is due back in court Aug. 23. A source in the district attorney's office said Simms turned down a deal from prosecutors to plead guilty, pay a $500 fine, perform three days of community service and lose his license for six months.

Tennessee signed Simms, who played for the Titans in 2008, to a one-year deal during the offseason after he was released by Denver. A Titans spokesman said the team is aware of the arrest and is gathering more information.

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