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Richie pleads not guilty to drunk driving

Reality TV star Nicole Richie pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol when she was seen driving the wrong way on a Los Angeles freeway.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Nicole Richie’s lawyer appeared in court Tuesday without her client and entered a not guilty plea on Richie’s behalf to a driving under the influence charge.

The complaint alleges Richie was under the influence of an alcoholic beverage and an unspecified drug when she was arrested Dec. 11. A pretrial conference was scheduled for April 2.

Richie, who starred in the TV reality show “The Simple Life” with Paris Hilton, was not required to appear for arraignment because the charge is a misdemeanor.

In addition to the single count, the Richie case contains an allegation that she had a prior misdemeanor DUI conviction in June 2003.

The California vehicle code specifies that if convicted of DUI twice within 10 years, a person can be sentenced to between 90 days and a year in jail, fined between $390 and $1,000, and have driving privileges suspended.

The 25-year-old Richie was arrested after 911 callers reported seeing her car headed the wrong way on a freeway in Burbank about 12:30 a.m. She was found alone in her SUV, which was stopped in a car-pool lane but facing the right way when California Highway Patrol officers arrived.

She was arrested after she failed a field sobriety test.

CHP Officer Todd Workman said at the time that Richie, the daughter of pop singer Lionel Richie, volunteered that she had smoked marijuana and taken the prescription painkiller Vicodin, but no drugs were found on her or in the car.

Richie’s reality show co-star has had similar problems recently. Last month, Hilton pleaded no contest to alcohol-related reckless driving stemming from her Sept. 7 arrest in Hollywood and was sentenced to 36 months probation, alcohol education and $1,500 in fines. That case was reduced from an original charge of driving under the influence.