LOS ANGELES — For most celebrities, getting smacked with a DUI is an instant image crisis. For Paris Hilton, it could be a career boost.
“Paris Hilton being arrested just makes her more famous,” said veteran publicist Michael Levine. “She has devoted her entire adult life to appearing to be the princess of parties.”
Hilton’s publicist, Elliot Mintz, confirmed the star’s festive nature Thursday: “She’s been known to have a drink or two.”
Hilton was arrested by Los Angeles police officers in Hollywood early Thursday on suspicion of driving under the influence. During the arrest she was briefly handcuffed. Hilton was booked at LAPD’s Hollywood station at 1:43 a.m. and released shortly afterward, said Nick Velasquez, a spokesman for the city attorney’s office.
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This is Hilton’s first drunk-driving arrest, Mintz said, adding that he doesn’t expect the incident to hurt her image.
“The people who enjoy Paris as a comedian or actress on TV or as a singer on her CD , a woman who seems to have captured the imagination of so many people, I don’t know if this is going to have any impact on them one way or another,” he said. “But, of course, she regrets what took place.”
Hours after her release, Hilton defended herself to radio host Ryan Seacrest during his Thursday morning show on local station KIIS-FM.
“It was nothing,” said Hilton, 25.
The singer, actress, handbag designer and heiress to the Hilton hotel-chain fortune said she was “starving because I had not ate all day” and possibly “speeding a little bit” in her Mercedes-Benz SLR on her way to grab a bite.
“I was just really hungry and I wanted to have an In-N-Out burger,” said the one-time pitchwoman for Carl’s Jr.
Hilton, who made her singing debut last week with the release of her eponymous CD, said she spent Wednesday filming a music video and going out with her sister, Nicky, and some friends for dinner, but not eating. The group then headed to a charity event sponsored by rocker Dave Navarro.
Just last month, she told the Los Angeles Times that she “doesn’t like the taste of alcohol.”
“It grosses me out,” she said.
Hilton told Seacrest that police stopped her early Thursday for speeding.
An LAPD spokeswoman said Hilton was driving erratically.
“Officers observed the vehicle driving in an erratic manner so they pulled the car over,” officer Marjan Mobasser said Thursday.
Hilton’s blood-alcohol level was .08 percent — the minimum to warrant an arrest, Mintz said.
The arresting officers were “really nice,” Hilton said.
“There was a lot of paparazzi around so I think they were trying to make a statement,” she told Seacrest. “Everything I do is blown out of proportion and it really hurts my feelings.”
Hilton is expected to be arraigned Sept. 28, said Velasquez of the city attorney’s office. Penalties for a first drunken-driving offense typically include a fine, probation, an alcohol-rehabilitation program, license suspension and “other DUI-related conditions” such as community service, he said.
LAPD officials said they will not release Hilton’s arrest report or her mug shot.
The maximum penalty for a first misdemeanor DUI offense is a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.
Paris' prior problems
This isn’t the first legal problem for the blonde heiress.
In February, a Superior Court judge ordered Hilton to stay away from event producer Brian Quintana after he claimed she shoved him on at least three occasions and badmouthed him.
A month earlier, actress and diamond heiress Zeta Graff filed a multimillion dollar lawsuit against Hilton claiming that Hilton spewed “vicious lies” to the New York Post about an altercation the two had in a London nightclub.
In November, Hilton was a passenger in a silver Bentley that a companion drove into the back of a large commercial truck, scratching the hood of the car. The mishap was captured on videotape. Cameras were also rolling when Hilton’s Range Rover backed into a car in a parking garage in June.
Hilton was just a pretty party girl and everyday heiress until a sex-tape she made with an ex-boyfriend surfaced in late 2003. That made her a cyberspace novelty and instant tabloid favorite. Hilton’s reality TV series “The Simple Life” debuted shortly afterward.
In 2004, Hilton released her book, “Confessions of an Heiress: A Tongue-in-Chic Peek Behind the Pose.” She appeared in episodes of television’s “The O.C.” and “Veronica Mars” and had a role in the 2005 horror flick “House of Wax.”
Hilton released a perfume bearing her name in 2004. Earlier this year, Hilton unveiled her cell-phone video game, “Diamondquest.” She’ll follow that with a line of Paris Hilton purses and cosmetics.
Hilton’s string of boyfriends has also kept her in the news. She was engaged for several months to Greek shipping heir Paris Latsis before dating another Greek shipping heir, Stavros Niarchos III. She has also been linked to former University of Southern California football star Matt Leinert, who recently signed with the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals.
Recently, Hilton announced she had taken a vow of sexual abstinence.
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