Being convicted on drunk driving charges can completely change how a person viewed in almost any setting. Facing DUI charges, even if you are not convicted, can be devastating for those who are public figures in Missouri and across the country. For a person like Hines Ward, 2006 Super Bowl most valuable player and winner of "Dancing With The Stars," a negative public perception can be career-ending.

In 2011, the professional football player was pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving in the early hours of the morning. Ward told officers that he had a couple drinks when he was at a club. He ended up failing the field sobriety test, according to the police, and subsequently refused to take a Breathalyzer test. At that point, he was arrested and taken to jail.

According to videos from the traffic stop, Ward expressed deep concerns about the impact these potential charges would have on public's perception of him. Cops told him that word would only get out if he told someone. However, Ward's fears were realized when his arrest became public knowledge and this particular arrest video was obtained by a celebrity gossip website.

Earlier this year, the drunk driving charges against Ward were dropped. This happened when he agreed to plead guilty on reduced charges of reckless driving. Throughout the whole process, Ward maintained that he was not intoxicated when he was driving at the time of his arrest. Ward's defense attorney concurred by stating that the facts of the case would show that the athlete was not impaired while he was driving.

This case shows the full extent of how damaging drunk driving charges can be. Ward was not convicted on DUI charges, but the perception that he is a drunk driver will likely stick with him. Beyond damage to a person's image, a DUI conviction can cause a person to lose their driver's license. For those that rely on a license to get to work, that can lead to serious financial hardship. Even if a person is not guilty of driving beyond the legal limit, simply being accused of doing so can have permanently harmful consequences.

Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "NFL's Hines Ward feared DUI arrest getting out," Christopher Seward, March 13, 2012