Rodger Bumpass -- aka Squidward Tentacles on "SpongeBob SquarePants" -- says cops lied about his DUI arrest ... but Bumpass' accusation could actually hurt him legally.
TMZ broke the story ... cops claimed they saw him leaning against his PT Cruiser on a Burbank street when they approached him. Police say he tried to walk away and stumbled as if he were impaired. He then flunked a field sobriety test and blew more than twice the legal limit.
Bumpass tells us he was NOT leaning against his car. Here's the way he says it went down. Bumpass admits he had been drinking at a Burbank bar, got in his car and began driving home. At some point he says cops began tailing him, pulled him over and asked if he had been drinking. He confessed he had, and then failed the field sobriety test.
Here's the problem ... cops say they never saw him behind the wheel, and even if he confessed he was so out of it the confession could be challenged. By claiming cops first spotted him while he was driving blows that defense out of the water.
Bumpass says he's spoken with several people over at Nickelodeon and his fate there is uncertain.