Panthers receiver Jarrett pleads guilty to DWI charge

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers receiver Dwayne Jarrett pleaded guilty to driving while impaired on Monday, minutes before he was scheduled to go on trial.

Jarrett surrendered his driver's license and was ordered to pay $420 in court costs and perform 24 hours of community service after appearing in Mecklenburg County District Court.

Jarrett will enter the first stage of the NFL's substance abuse program, meaning he will be subject to more frequent tests for drugs and alcohol.

The 21-year-old Jarrett was arrested March 11 in the Charlotte suburb of Mint Hill after police say he crossed the center line and ran a red light. The police report said Jarrett's blood-alcohol level was .12, above North Carolina's legal limit of .08.

"This is a thing that happened and you learn from your mistakes," the 6-foot-4 Jarrett said outside the courthouse. "You always have to take the right steps in everything you do. That's life in general. I took full responsibility for what happened. I'm here in court. Everything worked out."

The DWI arrest capped a tumultuous rookie season for Jarrett.

Expected to become a starter after being taken in the second round out of Southern California, Jarrett struggled to crack the lineup and was on the inactive list for much of the season. He was held to six catches for 73 yards and no touchdowns and was criticized for not learning the playbook.

Jarrett also had a well-documented run-in with the team's star receiver, Steve Smith. While conducting an interview at his locker with reporters, Smith interrupted and told Jarrett he should spend more time in the film room instead of talking to reporters.

"He's definitely one of the most explosive players in the NFL and he's someone you take heed to," Jarrett said. "We collided heads at times, but he wanted the best for me. We just had that miscommunication between us and we worked things out. There's no bad blood between us. I'm here every day working hard just like he is and I'm just trying to learn from him."

Jarrett said he and Smith, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, have since smoothed their differences.

"We definitely had a lot of talks the last year and that is between us," Jarrett said. "There's nothing I can pinpoint on. But he came to me and said some things he wished he could have handled better as far as things he said in the past and got out -- that kind of conflict between us that it was made to look like in the paper. But he's my teammate and we're just trying to get the Panthers back to that big game and I'm trying to do everything in my power to help them."

Jarrett now faces increased competition when training camp starts next month. Offseason acquisitions Muhsin Muhammad and D.J. Hackett are expected to vie for the starting job opposite Smith.