Celebrity DUI: The Drunk Driving Celebrities Who Made 2006 Even More Memorable
By: Chris Kramer
As the New Year quickly approaches, it's time to look back at the celebrity DUI arrests in 2006 that captured headlines, turned heads and had everyone talking.
From trendy socialites and popular actors to famous comedians and pro athletes, celebrity DUI's filled the police blotter and kept many DUI lawyers busy in 2006.
- It was hardly "The Simple Life" for the two stars of the Fox reality series as Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton were each arrested on suspicion of drunk driving.
The Nicole Richie DWI occurred in early December when the 25-year-old adopted daughter of singer Lionel Richie was pulled over by police for driving down the wrong way of a California highway. Richie allegedly told an officer that she smoked marijuana and took some prescription Vicodin prior to her California DUI arrest. Richie also had a DUI in 2002 and would face five days in prison if convicted for a second time according to California DUI law.
Richie's running mate, Paris Hilton, was booked on suspicion of DUI in early September. This celebrity DUI arrest occurred after Hilton was pulled over for erratically driving her Mercedes in Hollywood. Police administered field sobriety tests on Hilton. Her publicist later said that Hilton had only one margarita and could not have registered a blood alcohol content reading above the 0.08% limit in California.
- Mel Gibson's celebrity DUI arrest in July was further complicated when the "Braveheart" star and director of "The Passion of the Christ" reportedly went on an anti-Semitic tirade. Gibson registered a 0.12% breathalyzer reading at the time of his arrest in Los Angeles and would later plead no contest to drunk driving in August. Gibson also offered a public apology for his insensitive remarks and admitted that he's struggled with alcoholism for years.
- DUI celebrity arrests were recurring but not funny punch lines for comedic actors Tracy Morgan and Rip Torn.
Morgan was arrested in New York City for suspicion of DUI in late November. The former major player on "Saturday Night Live" and current star of NBC's "30 Rock" reportedly smelled of alcohol at the time of his stop and later failed a breathalyzer test. This celebrity DUI arrest for Morgan came nearly a year after he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor DWI charges in California. Morgan turned down a plea deal for his New York DUI arrest.
Torn was also arrested for drunk driving around New York city after his turning vehicle hit a tractor trailer. The former star of "The Larry Sanders Show" refused a breathalyzer test during his early December DUI arrest and argued that the tractor hit his vehicle. Torn was later released on bond, and his license was suspended. Torn was acquitted of 2004 DUI charges that he hit a taxi while driving drunk.
Other celebrity drunk driving arrests in 2006 included Haley Joel Osment from "The Sixth Sense" and former "Lost" cast member Michelle Rodriguez, who only served five hours of a 60-day prison term in May for a Hawaii DUI that violated her 2004 California DUI.
- The sports world, especially the NFL, saw many of its players capture more headlines off the field for DUI arrests than on the field for their athletic performances. Eight Cincinnati Bengals were arrested during the yet-completed 2006 season, including wide receiver Chris Henry, cornerback Deltha O'Neal and linebacker Odell Thurman on DUI charges. Henry has been arrested four times since December of 2005 on charges of alcohol, drugs and firearms.
NFL DUI arrests also tackled Antonio Bryant of the San Francisco 49ers, Cletis Gordon of the San Diego Chargers, B.J. Sams of the Baltimore Ravens, Adrian Jones of the New York Jets, and Khalif Barnes and Brian Williams of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Two players were released from their teams because of DUI charges. Defensive cornerback Marcus Coleman was released by the Dallas Cowboys for a Texas DUI while wide receiver Koren Robinson was cut from the Minnesota Vikings and later suspended for a year by the NFL for yet another DUI violation.
Sports DUI arrests weren't limited to the gridiron as Eric Musselman, head coach of the Sacramento Kings, was arrested for a DUI a few days prior to the November tip-off of the 2006 season. At the college level, former Duke All-American guard J.J. Redick was charged with DUI while current Illinois senior three-point specialist Rich McBride faced similar charges. On the ice, San Jose Sharks hockey player Mark Bell was charged with a DUI hit and run following a Labor Day incident in San Jose.
To cap things off, former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson provide the perfect knockout punch to 2006 when he was arrested on Arizona DUI and drug possession charges on December 29th. Tyson, who rose to boxing prominence as a teen and quickly descended when he was imprisoned for rape in the early nineties, is also dubiously remembered for biting off part of Evander Holyfield's ear during a 1997 bout.
Here's hoping that 2007 leaves a better taste for Tyson and those other celebrities who faced DUI charges in 2006!