Seven months after he was arrested for drunk driving, Hines Ward has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge to end the case.
Ward pleaded guilty to reckless driving this morning and pleaded no contest to failing to maintain his lane, and in return prosecutors in Dekalb County, Georgia, agreed to drop the driving under the influence charge against him. Ward will get probation, a $2,000 fine and 80 hours of community service. He’ll be allowed to check in with his probation officer via phone or e-mail, so if he’s playing in the NFL this year the probation won’t interrupt his practice or game schedule.
“We are grateful for the outcome,” Andrew Ree, Ward’s attorney, said in a statement to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “By dropping the DUI charge it is clear that the prosecution did not have sufficient evidence to proceed. Hines has always maintained that his ability to drive was in no way impaired and we are pleased that the facts support his innocence. He is thankful to his legal team and to all who stand by him. Hines has a great respect for the legal system and is also grateful in particular to the state for the professional manner in which they handled this manner.”
Ward was arrested in the early morning of July 9 when an officer saw him hit a curb in his Aston Martin. He claimed he was not drunk. The arrest became fodder for the Ravens-Steelers rivalry when Ravens running back Ray Rice said he expected Ward to be suspended, and held firm to that comment when some suggested it was unseemly for one NFL player to weigh in on the off-field issues affecting another.