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PARIS – Gallic acting legend and newly minted Russian citizen Gerard Depardieu was found guilty Friday morning of driving while intoxicated following an arrest in Nov. 2012. He was fined $5290 (€4000) and had his license suspended for six months. Depardieu was not present at the hearing.
The charge stemmed from an incident last year when Depardieu fell off of his scooter and tested with a blood alcohol level of 1.8, nearly three times the legal limit of 0.5. No others were involved in the incident when he tipped over, but police statements said the actor smelled strongly of alcohol at the time of his detention and began to yell at officers that he did not want to be controlled. During the hearing Depardieu’s lawyer, Eric de Caumont, claimed the actor had consumed a single glass of champagne hours earlier.
Though Depardieu could have faced up to two years in prison, prosecutors had requested a license suspension of ten months and the fine.
Today’s decision ends a drawn-out court process that has seen three postponements already, but despite the many delays Depardieu still did not attend. “It’s always frustrating when a defendant who contests the facts is not there to be questioned directly,” said prosecutor Aurelia Devos.
The famously debaucherous actor is filming the art thief themed Turquoise with Elizabeth Hurley in Grozny, Chechnya, where he also keeps a home. Depardieu has been declared an honorary citizen there, having befriended Kremlin-supported strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, who has been accused of multiple human rights violations. Earlier this week, Depardieu gave an interview in Paris to Le Journal du Dimanche stating that the situation in Chechnya has been unfairly judged and is not as depicted in the press.
He also claimed that his drunkenness is part of his charm. “[I’m] drunk sometimes, but my drunkenness is part of my excess,” he said. “I think it corresponds to an image that the French love. Someone who is a bit of a rebel, who shakes things up, and is sometimes drunk.”
It’s not the first time the actor’s excess has got him in trouble. In 2011, passengers on a flight from Paris to Dublin, Ireland, were stunned when a visibly drunk Depardieu urinated in the aisle of the plane. Later that year, he hit another motorist in Paris.
His next film, the thriller La Marque des Anges, in which he plays an Interpol agent, opens in French theaters June 26.
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