ATLANTA Former Falcons running back Michael Turner, who was arrested on Sept. 18, 2012, in Gwinnett County on suspicion of driving under the influence, pleaded guilty to reckless driving and has received 12 months of probation, a 1,000 fine, 30 days of community service along with his participation in several other programs, according to the Gwinnett County solicitor's office.
Turner, who was released by the Falcons on March 1 and has yet to sign with another team, also agreed to the following terms: Risk Reduction (DUI school), alcohol and drug evaluation, no alcohol consumption and random screens.
He also pleaded guilty to speeding and paid a 250 fine on that violation. Turner reportedly was driving 97 miles per hour in a 65-mile-per-hour zone on Interstate 85 North near Indian Trail Road.
It's possible that Turner's plea to a different charge despite measuring a .109 blood-alcohol level at the time of his arrest, above the legal limit of .08 could help him escape possible punishment from the commissioners office, should he sign with another team.
Last August, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke publicly of the need to reduce the number of DUI arrests among players, which had reached 19 in the first seven months of 2012.
"We are going to do some things to combat this problem because some of the numbers on DUIs and domestic violence are going up and that disturbs me," Goodell said. "When theres a pattern of mistakes, something has got to change."
The Falcons originally signed Turner, 31, to a six-year, 34.5-million contract in 2008 and he earned membership on the Associated Press All-Pro team in both 2008 and 2010 before his production declined significantly last season, falling to a career-low 3.6 yards per carry.
For his career, Turner averaged 4.5 yards per carry.
Turner was pulled over around 4 a.m. following the Falcons' 27-21 victory over Denver on Monday Night Football last September. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which cited the police report, Turner submitted to a portable breath test and measured a .109 blood alcohol level.
Allison Cauthen, a Gwinnett County assistant solicitor and the recorder's court supervising attorney, explained in an email as to why the office did not pursue the DUI charge. (Reckless driving, she said, is a misdemeanor of the same classification and degree as DUI.)
She said the "numerical Alco sensor result of .109 is not admissible at trial."
"We did not have admissible evidence of an unlawful blood alcohol content in this case, she wrote.
After evaluating the evidence of Turner's alcohol impairment, she said in a video recording that Turner "does not sway, look unsteady, or slur his words. The officer reported Mr. Turners exit from the vehicle was normal, his walk was normal, and his speech was normal. There was also some inconsistency between the video and report with respect to how much he had to drink."
The AJC, citing the police report, said Turner told the arresting officer he drank five shots after arriving at Magic City, an Atlanta "gentleman's club," at around 3 a.m.
Cauthen said the officer did not use two field sobriety tests and did not ask Turner to walk and turn and stand on one leg because "Mr. Turner reported injuring his ankle during the football game that evening."
Cauthen also said a third field sobriety test, called the "horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN)," is affected by closed head injuries."
As one might expect of someone in his line of work, Mr. Turner has had head injuries and had sustained several violent blows to the head during the game, Cauthen wrote. "Therefore, the result of the HGN was not credible under the circumstances."
Lastly, Cauthen said the arresting officer negotiated the plea to reckless driving during what is called an Administrative License Suspension hearing. While those negotiations are not binding on the prosecutor, Cauthen said, her office agreed with the decision.
"Evidence sufficient to arrest under the probable cause standard sometimes is not sufficient to convict under the beyond a reasonable doubt standard, she wrote.
Turner was represented by Michael LaScala, who did not want to comment to FOXSportsSouth.com on the case. An email request to Turner's agent Bus Cook was not immediately returned at the time of publication.
Turner entered his plea on Feb. 28, the day before the Falcons cut him.