Panthers' Cooper Loses License
Aug. 28, 2002
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) _ Carolina Panthers safety Jarrod Cooper pleaded no contest on Tuesday to drunken driving in connection with a one-vehicle accident in February.
Cooper was given a 90-day suspended jail sentence and placed on unsupervised probation for a year. The judge also fined him $800 and ordered him to surrender his driver's license for a year.
Defense attorney George Laughrun told the judge that Cooper, 24, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.18 percent at the time of the accident. That's more than twice the legal limit. It is against the law in North Carolina to drive with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent or more.
Cooper lost control of his SUV and hit a guardrail at about 1:50 a.m. on Feb. 8 as he exited Interstate 85. Cooper was alone in the vehicle and wasn't injured.
``I apologize to the fans and the city,'' Cooper said. ``I was blessed that no one else was involved. I learned a lesson. I feel like I've gotten another chance at life. People die when they drink and drive.''
Cooper was drafted by the Panthers in the fifth round in 2001 out of Kansas State. As a rookie last year, Cooper led the Panthers with 20 special teams tackles.
During Tuesday's hearing, Laughrun told the judge that Cooper must attend the NFL's two-year substance-abuse program. The defense lawyer said his client could be suspended from the Panthers if he violates conditions of the program.