On Dec. 6, Alfonzo Dennard, a New England Patriots cornerback, agreed to a plea deal that dismisses a DUI charge against him and concluded two days of Nebraska court hearings. In exchange for having the DUI case dismissed, Dennard pleaded no contest to the charge of refusing to submit to a chemical test as part of an agreement with the Lincoln city attorney’s office. He was put on probation and fined $500.
If Dennard commits any new DUI offenses, the DUI charge may be reinstated. According to an assistant prosecutor, the charges for the refusal to submit and the DUI have the same penalty. She said that it is not uncommon for individuals to have one or the other of the charges dismissed.
The cornerback was taken into custody in Lincoln in July on suspicion of drunk driving when he allegedly refused a breath test. According to police, a partial reading indicated that he had a blood alcohol level that was above the legal limit. In a September hearing, prosecutors wanted to revoke his probation after Dennard allegedly admitted that he had been drinking and driving.
The cornerback is already serving three years of probation for a separate incident in 2012. Dennard was expected to be a mid-round NFL draft choice that year and played college football at Nebraska. A few days prior to the draft, he was taken into custody for the incident, in which he allegedly struck a police officer near a bar in downtown Lincoln. In that case, he received a sentence of 100 hours of community service, 30 days in jail and two years of probation.
On Dec. 5, his jail sentence was extended to 60 days and his probation to three years by a district judge. In addition, the judge increased his community service to 200 hours. He is slated to begin his jail sentence on March 1.
This story illustrates the potential benefit of a plea agreement. In this case, the defendant was able to have his DUI charge dismissed, which may help him further his professional football career. A DUI conviction can have a negative impact on individuals’ careers and personal lives regardless of whether they are high-profile athletes or working professionals in another industry, but a thorough defense may offset some of the ramifications.