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Steelers' Hines Ward in plea deal as DUI charge dropped

By David Beasley

ATLANTA (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors on Wednesday dropped a drunken driving charge against Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, who instead pleaded guilty to reckless driving and was sentenced to probation.

A Georgia judge ordered the National Football League star to serve 12 months of probation and perform 80 hours of community service, said Emily Gest, spokeswoman for the DeKalb County solicitor-general.

Ward, a 35-year-old, two-time Super Bowl champion, was arrested on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol in the early morning hours of July 9. In a statement released at the time, he denied being impaired.

Prosecutors dropped the drunken driving charge in exchange for Ward's plea, Gest said. He also pleaded no contest to a charge of failing to maintain his lane, commonly known as swerving, according to a statement by the solicitor.

Ward was fined $2,000. He will have to undergo an evaluation for alcohol abuse and will be required to undergo any treatment recommended, the statement said.

He will be allowed to check in with his probation officer by phone or email, which is standard practice for defendants who live out of state.

Ward, a Georgia native, was drafted in 1998. He has been selected for the Pro Bowl four times and is a former Super Bowl Most Valuable Player. Ward is the all-time leader in career catches for the Steelers.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Eric Beech)