A cop believed Rey Maualuga was so intoxicated following a car crash back in 2021 ... he told the ex-NFL star he could "smell" him "sweating the booze out" while he was placing him under arrest.
It's all in newly released bodycam footage, obtained by TMZ Sports, in which you can see Maualuga's interaction with cops after he had just crashed his white Mercedes through front yards and eventually into a parked car in a neighborhood in Crescent Springs, KY on Aug. 11, 2021.
The video revealed the aftermath of the accident was terrifying -- showing Maualuga's car was a mangled mess as it was wedged into another vehicle and a tree.
An officer can be heard in the clip asking Maualuga if he'd be willing to take field sobriety tests a few feet away from the wreckage ... but when the 34-year-old former football player declined, the cop slapped the handcuffs on him.
While he was tightening the cuffs, the cop told Rey, "I can just smell you sweating the booze out, my man."
Maualuga was apologetic throughout the arrest ... repeatedly telling officers and medical personnel on the scene that he was "sorry."
The former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker was taken to the station ... and ultimately hit with three charges over the incident -- felony first-degree wanton endangerment, felony first-degree criminal mischief, and misdemeanor DUI -- third offense.
Maualuga ended up pleading guilty to the charges last month ... and entered into a pre-trial diversion program, meaning if he keeps his nose clean for the next five years, and completes several other conditions, the charges will be dismissed.
Prosecutors told TMZ Sports Maualuga spent 120 days in jail after his arrest and completed an in-patient substance abuse program ... which they said factored into their decision to agree to give Maualuga the pre-trial diversion program.
Maualuga -- a former All-American at USC -- was one of the better linebackers in the NFL from 2009 to 2017 ... recording 607 total tackles for the Bengals and Miami Dolphins.