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Michael Phelps Pleads Guilty To DUI

Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps was sentenced to 18 months' supervised probation today after pleading guilty to drunken driving.

He was arrested in September after leaving a casino in downtown Baltimore. Police documents show that he swerved over a yellow line while going 84 in 45-mph zone. Police say Phelps failed field sobriety tests and registered a 0.14 on a blood-alcohol test. In Maryland, the legal limit is 0.08.

This is the second time Phelps, 29, has been convicted of driving under the influence. His first charge was also in Maryland in 2004. Following that conviction, USA Swimming banned him from the sport for six months, and Phelps went into a six-week treatment program immediately after the incident.

In addition to these two DUI convictions, in 2009, the British newspaper News of the World published a photo of him with a marijuana pipe in his mouth. He was suspended from swimming for three months after that incident.

Phelps had recently come out of retirement with plans to compete in a fifth Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Being on probation is not likely to affect those plans.

The court today sentenced him to a year behind bars but suspended the sentence if Phelps completes the 18-month probation without incident. The judge ordered the swimmer to abstain from all alcohol during this period.

"I now have the tools to move past this," Phelps told the judge, according to the AP. "What I did was wrong, and I made a bad mistake. I'm looking forward to having a much brighter future than I had in the past."

Phelps appeared at the courthouse in a suit and tie, with his attorney, his mother and his sister. The AP reported that his doctor from the treatment center wrote a glowing letter about Phelps, saying he was forthright and cooperative. Phelps' attorney, Steven Allen, told the court Phelps is attending Alcoholics Anonymous and continuing with therapy.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Laura Sullivan is an NPR News investigative correspondent whose work has cast a light on some of the country's most significant issues.