KIRKLAND — Lofa Tatupu took the first step in his driving-under-the-influence court case by turning in a plea of not guilty at a Kirkland court on Tuesday morning.
Attorney Jon Fox called it a “lawyer’s plea” that is meant to buy the defense team more time.
“This was done to preserve the status quo and leave all options open,” Fox said after accompanying the Seattle Seahawks’ linebacker to Kirkland Municipal Court on Tuesday morning. “We intend to examine all of the legal and factual issues in this case. We’ve already begun that process. We also intend to move forward toward a positive resolution.”
Tatupu was flanked by Fox and two other lawyers while appearing at the courthouse. The Pro Bowl middle linebacker was answering to a DUI charge that came after he was pulled over May 10 in Kirkland.
According to the police report, Tatupu was driving a blue Hyundai erratically in the early-morning hours before pulling into a McDonald’s drive-thru. When approached by a police officer, Tatupu responded that he had been in a hurry because one of his three passengers had to go to the bathroom, according to the report.
Tatupu refused to take a breathalyzer at the scene but was eventually tested at the police station, registering blood-alcohol levels of .155 and .158. The legal limit is .080.
Tatupu, 25, issued an apology to fans and teammates through the Seahawks’ public relations department a few days after the incident.
Tatupu will be back in court on July 7. The presiding judge, Michael Lambo, originally set an August court date but moved it at Fox’s request.
Tatupu is the second Seahawks player to appear in court this week. Defensive tackle Rocky Bernard faced domestic violence charges in a Seattle courtroom Monday but received a stipulated order of continuance, which means the charges will be dropped if he complies to a set of restrictions and stays out of trouble for two years.
The Seahawks are not practicing and will not return to the field until the end of next month, when training camp begins in Kirkland.