Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston rants about the arrest of Ravens running back Bernard Pierce and explains why he should be released from the team. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
Former Ravens running back Bernard Pierce will be under probation supervised by Baltimore County Circuit Court for the next year, but avoided a conviction on drunk driving charges on Tuesday through a plea agreement.
Pierce, now of the Jacksonville Jaguars, was released by the Ravens on March 18, hours after he was pulled over on Dulaney Valley Road in Towson and charged with driving under the influence of alchohol, plus three related offenses.
According to a police report, Pierce predicted his release when talking to the arresting officer and passed out at the police precinct as he was being processed.
After lengthy discussions with state's attorneys Tuesday, including a change of courtroom that allowed more time to negotiate, Pierce's attorneys, Warren Alperstein and Sandy Steeves, entered a guilty plea on the DUI charge for Pierce. The other charges were dropped as a result.
Judge Mickey Norman, citing Pierce's cooperation during his arrest, his community service, and his participation in post-incident evaluations for possible substance addiction, said Pierce deserved to be held to the same standards as anyone else. Probation before judgment would fit the situation were he not an NFL player, Norman said, especially for someone with no record of such incidents.
He struck the guilty verdict from the plea agreement, meaning there's no conviction on Pierce's record.
"There's no doubt in my mind this is an aberration," Alperstein told the court.
Norman mandated that Pierce pay a $250 fine, plus court costs, and said the NFL's third-party drug testing provider must send monthly reports on Pierce to the court. Under the NFL's substance abuse program, which Pierce entered following the arrest, players can be randomly tested up to 10 times per month.
"What the NFL requires is much more strict or stringent" than normal probation, Norman said.
Pierce told Norman that he learned a lot about the DUI laws during the process.
"I lost it all, and now I'm trying to rebuild," Pierce said during the proceedings. "If I could do it all over again, I definitely wouldn't drink and drive."
"Mr. Pierce is pleased with the favorable resolution of this case where there is no conviction relating to this incident," Alperstein said after the ruling. "He has learned from this experience, and is eager to move forward."