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Just Because You’re Famous Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Get a DUI

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If you're a big soap opera fan, you probably know that Emmy Award-winning “General Hospital" star Haley Pullos is taking a leave of absence from her role as Molly Lansing-Davis due to injuries sustained in an April 29th Los Angeles-area freeway accident. “Unfortunately, I was involved in an automobile accident, and I'm doing okay, but I am going to need a little time to recover," the actress told Soap Opera Digest 10 days after the accident.

It took the news media another week to figure out that police had charged Ms. Pullos with felony DUI for the accident caused by her driving the wrong way down the highway and hitting another woman's vehicle head-on. Both drivers had to be extracted from their vehicles with the jaws of life, and both were hospitalized, with the other driver suffering critical injuries. During the extraction, Ms. Pullos reportedly got physically violent with one of the first responders trying to help while shouting at him, “this is a $400 f***ing shirt." Police reported discovering cannabis edibles and mini tequila bottles in her vehicle. She also exhibited signs of intoxication marked by slurred speech, watery eyes, and a noticeable odour of alcohol.

If Ms. Pullos were facing the felony DUI charges for injuring another person in Ontario, the expert lawyers at TorontoDUI would tell you she faces a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison. Should the other injured driver succumb to her injuries, Ms. Pullos could receive a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Under California law, Ms. Pullos faces a maximum punishment of four years in prison, a $5,000 fine, a five-year driver's license revocation, and some related penalties. If the victim dies, she faces a maximum 10-year prison term and supplementary penalties.

Little doubt that Ms. Pullos's lawyers might advise her that she's lucky she's not facing felony DUI causing injury charges in Canada.

With a professional interest in all matters pertaining to DUI, we decided to investigate how other celebrities have fared when hit by DUI charges. While we uncovered some Canadian celebrities arrested for DUI, they all seem to have been arrested in the States. Dunno, but perhaps celebrities know that the penalties for DUI can be exceptionally severe in Canada and thus make a concerted effort to avoid impaired driving here. Anyhow, here are how some notable celebrities—Canadian and not—fared with their DUI charges. As an aside, we'll note that the power of celebrity prestige often appears to work in their favour.

Kiefer Sutherland

Let's start with Canadian actor Kiefer Sutherland, who is currently best known for his role as Jack Bauer in the Emmy Award-winning drama “24." With three previous DUIs on his driving resume, Kiefer was charged with his fourth one in 2007. A Los Angeles court sentenced Kiefer to 30 days in jail for the DUI plus another 18 days for breaking the probation terms of his previous DUI. The sentence also included five years of probation, mandatory enrollment in an 18-month alcohol education program, and six months of weekly therapy. Due to overcrowding in the Los Angeles jail, Kiefer was allowed to serve his time in the suburban Glendale jail, where officials said he was a model prisoner.

Mel Gibson

While not a Canadian, Mel Gibson is one A-List Hollywood star who has been arrested for DUI in Canada. However, he was charged with impaired driving in 1984 before the Canadian Government significantly stiffened DUI-related penalties. In court, the Ontario judge reduced the DUI charges to a reckless driving offence, resulting in a three-month suspension of provincial driving privileges and a $300 fine.

The actor, who has admitted to having issues with alcohol for decades, was arrested for DUI again in 2006 after California police stopped him for speeding on the Pacific Coast Highway. That arrest made significant headlines because the arresting officer's transcript quoted Mel lashing out at police with a barrage of expletive-laden, antisemitic comments.

Mel pleaded no contest to the charges, and the judge sentenced him to three-years probation, mandatory Alcoholics Anonymous meeting attendance five times a week for four and a half months, followed by attendance three times a week for the rest of the first year of his probation. His license was also restricted for 90 days, and he was fined $1,300.

Justin Bieber

Canadian superstar singer Justin Bieber likely finagled a positive plea bargain on his 2014 Miami Beach DUI arrest through name recognition and great lawyering. During his arrest—which included expired license and resisting arrest charges—Justin admitted to police that he had consumed alcohol, smoked marijuana, and was taking Xanax. However, in court, the judge accepted a plea bargain that allowed the singer to plead guilty to resisting police without violence and driving without due care and attention. He was penalized with a $500 fine, mandatory attendance at a 12-hour anger management course and another program highlighting drunk drivers' impacts to their victims. Justin also agreed to contribute $50,000 to a local children's charity as part of the deal.

Khloe Kardashian

If you “keep up with the Kardashians," you undoubtedly know that Khloe skated through her 2007 DUI arrest and subsequent conviction in California, the events of which formed a major role in the first and third seasons of the TV series “Keeping Up with the Kardashians." Upon conviction, the media personality was sentenced to three years probation, community service, and mandatory attendance of an alcohol education course. While she completed her community service, she missed some alcohol education classes due to her “busy schedule." The judge was not impressed and sentenced her to 30 days in jail for violating her probation terms. However, Khloe was released from jail in less than three hours due to overcrowding.

Keanu Reeves

We'll end with Canadian actor Keanu Reeves, who was arrested in 1993 for DUI, reckless driving, and resisting arrest in Los Angeles when his stardom started ascending due to the success of “Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" and “Pointbreak." While California had some of the strictest DUI laws in America then, the charges were apparently dropped after Keanu admitted to the offences. We're guessing that his celebrity status helped secure that outcome, but we believe he likely had an excellent defence lawyer working his case, too.

Even If You're Not a Celebrity, Turn to TorontoDUI for Your DUI Defence

If you're a celebrity who's been charged with DUI in Ontario, the criminal defence lawyers of TorontoDUI would be glad to vigorously defend you against the charges. And if you are not a celebrity, we promise to provide you with the same expert DUI defence that we would give to an A-lister. With a top-notch reputation in the Greater Toronto Area for securing positive results in DUI cases, contact TorontoDUI for your free initial consultation.

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