Cabrera avoids jail time in DUI case

All-Star first baseman Miguel Cabrera will avoid jail time after pleading no contest Thursday to a DUI charge.

Cabrera was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to pay $1,436.23 in a fine and court costs arising from a Feb. 16, 2011, traffic stop in Fort Pierce, Fla. Cabrera earned $20 million last year, so his penalty is equivalent to $3.59 for someone making $50,000 per annum.

The settlement also includes a six-month driver’s license suspension, 10-day vehicle immobilization and 50 hours of community service. A second charge of resisting arrest was dropped.

Cabrera’s attorney, Michael Kessler, said in a statement to that Cabrera asked him to settle the case because he “wants this behind him before the start of spring training.”

Kessler acknowledged that he “proceeded slowly” with initial trial preparations, so that the court proceedings would take place after the 2011 season, in which Cabrera’s Detroit Tigers qualified for the postseason.

The decision to settle, Kessler said, came only after the St. Lucie County prosecutor’s office gave notice Thursday that it had prepared an additional 100 pages of discovery materials.

Kessler believed the new information put the Jan. 9 trial date in jeopardy. With Tigers set to report to spring training next month, Kessler said, “Miguel Cabrera is determined not to allow this to go on any further.”

Cabrera, 28, apparently succeeded in minimizing distractions associated with the case. He won the American League batting title with a .344 average, led the Tigers to the American League Championship Series and finished fifth in MVP voting last year.

Major League Baseball has not publicly disciplined Cabrera regarding the incident. However, MLB and the players’ union jointly established a “multifaceted, professionally administered program” to treat his alcohol addiction in the days following his arrest. The program included a sober companion, former major-league outfielder Raul Gonzalez, who is expected to return this year in the same role.

Cabrera’s treatment plan through MLB and the union stipulated that “any future alcohol-related incidents could involve more serious consequences.”