Cabrera pleads no contest, settles DUI case

By Jason Beck / | 01/05/12 6:20 PM EST

DETROIT -- Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera has settled his legal case stemming from his stop along a Florida highway last February, pleading no contest on Thursday to a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence. In return, state attorneys dropped a charge of resisting an officer without violence.
Cabrera will serve a year of probation, perform 50 hours of community service and pay a $500 fine in addition to court costs, according to documents filed with the St. Lucie County Circuit Court. He will not serve jail time.
The agreement settles the legal dealings ahead of Spring Training next month. Cabrera's attorney, Michael Kessler, said in a statement to the media that it was the reason for settling.

"Miguel Cabrera is determined not to allow this to go on any further," Kessler's statement read. "He wants this behind him before the start of Spring Training. For that reason, and for that reason only, Miguel Cabrera asked me to settle this case today. The case was resolved this afternoon with a negotiated settlement, accepted by both sides and approved by the trial court judge."
The Tigers issued a statement on Thursday.
"Miguel Cabrera has kept the organization informed on this personal matter, and we fully support his decision," the statement said.
Cabrera had submitted a plea of not guilty. The trial was set to begin next Monday after a series of delays, but Kessler said in his statement that a "late disclosure" of additional discovery materials put that date in jeopardy.
In the documents, Cabrera noted that he was accepting the agreement because he believes it's in his own best interest.
Cabrera was arrested in Fort Pierce, Fla., last February, just before position players were scheduled to report to Spring Training. His car was found along the side of Okeechobee Road, near Interstate 95 and Florida's Turnpike. Cabrera said later he was trying to drive to Lakeland that night in his 2005 Land Rover with plans to have it shipped to Venezuela for family.
Cabrera reported to camp eight days later and publicly apologized for the incident, calling it "one bad decision on my part." An investigative report released later detailed a verbal altercation involving Cabrera at a nearby restaurant before Cabrera left; his vehicle was found shortly thereafter with him in the driver's seat.
Cabrera, who had been undergoing outpatient counseling after a 2009 incident in suburban Detroit, agreed to a treatment program arranged through Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association with consultation from doctors. As part of the program, former Major League outfielder Raul Gonzalez served as a companion for Cabrera throughout the season, offering support.
The season ended up being a personal comeback for Cabrera, who showed no signs of issues as he went through the year. On the field, he won an American League batting title and helped lead the Tigers' offense to the team's first division title in 24 years. Off the field, Cabrera was by all accounts a positive presence in the clubhouse.
Cabrera declined to talk during the year about the incident or the ensuing program. At season's end, however, team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski praised Cabrera's efforts personally and professionally.
"Anything he does on the field would not surprise me, but I think he's driven to be the best player he possibly can," Dombrowski said in November. "For me, it wouldn't surprise me that he does that for a bunch of years yet. Off the field, I give him a lot of credit for the work that he did. He did everything that was required and is committed to making his program work."