The rookie linebacker was arrested four days ago after police said he hit a parking meter and two parked cars in northern Kentucky. He was charged with drunken and careless driving, and a court hearing was scheduled for Feb. 25.
He changed his plea to guilty on the drunken-driving charge Tuesday and received a suspended seven-day jail sentence. The careless driving charge was dropped. Maualuga had his driver's license suspended for 90 days and was ordered to participate in an alcohol and drug education program.
Maualuga also was put on probation for two years and ordered to pay $884 in a fine plus court costs. He'll also have to make restitution for damages from the accident, which haven't been determined yet.
In a statement released through his agents, Maualuga apologized "for letting everyone down and making a terrible decision to drive under the influence. I wanted to acknowledge fault quickly and accept the consequences for my actions, which are the same that anyone else facing these charges would receive."
Maualuga was a second-round draft pick out of USC last year. He quickly became a starter and a fan favorite for his hard-hitting play. He ranked fourth on the team in tackles when he broke his left ankle during a game against Kansas City on Dec. 27, forcing him to miss the final regular-season game and a 24-14 playoff loss to the Jets.
After appearing in court Tuesday, Maualuga told reporters he was sorry "for bringing such great humiliation and embarrassment to the team. ... I will learn from this and become a better person and a better man from all this. And I will assure you that this will never happen again."
The Bengals said they were disappointed in the linebacker's conduct that led to the arrest.
"We expect a higher standard from our players, as is stressed to them continually," the team said in a statement. "Rey must work to repair the damage this has done to his reputation, and he has begun that process with an apology, an expression of strong remorse and a prompt resolution in the Kentucky court."