Kiefer Sutherland Lands in Jail for DUI
By: Gerri Elder
Popular television actor Kiefer Sutherland, star of the hit Fox TV show 24, is facing a new kind of crime, off the set, and surely one of which his notorious character Jack Bauer on the show would disapprove.
After being stopped by Los Angeles police for executing an illegal U-turn in California last month, Sutherland was found to be driving under the influence of alcohol when a breathalyzer tested him at over the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
At his court appearance for the DUI arrest, Sutherland pleaded no contest to the charge of driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit of 0.08 percent. Sutherland was additionally charged with violating probation for a drunk driving charge from 2004.
As part of the plea agreement that Sutherland entered, he will serve 48 days in jail, 30 days for the charge of driving with BAC over the legal limit and 18 days for the probation violation. As part of the agreement, a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence was dropped.
Sutherland will begin serving the 18-day sentence on December 21, the date of his official sentence, which coincidentally (or not ) is the day the winter break in the production of 24 also begins. Thus, while serving the shorter sentence, Sutherland will avoid missing any shooting time for the show.
After he serves the initial sentence, Sutherland has until July 1, 2008 to serve the remaining 30 days of jail time. The flexibility in that timing will almost certainly allow him to follow his shooting schedule for 24.
Though many celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie and have been shown the red carpet treatment after being arrested for DUI, Sutherland's plea agreement will guarantee that he won't be released early for his celebrity status. According to the plea, he must serve all 48 days and cannot be released of the sentence for any reason. Also, the judge cannot release him to electronic monitoring.
In addition to the jail sentences, Sutherland also faces other DUI penalties, including five years of probation and a driving suspension.
After a disappearance from the public eye for several years, Sutherland became one of Hollywood's leading actors after the enormous popularity of the television show 24 and his character Jack Bauer.
Judging from the comments left on blog posts and chat forums across the web, there's no indication that the DUI conviction will tarnish his reputation in the eyes of his many fans across the country.
And the plea agreement signed by Sutherland will ensure that paying his debt to society won't conflict with fulfilling his entertainment responsibilities to his fans.
In a statement released by officials at the Fox network, Sutherland expressed his desire to make sure the cast and crew of 24 wouldn't have to suffer from his recent mistakes.
"Kiefer made clear to us at the time of his arrest that his first concern was the welfare of those he worked with and that he intended to do whatever was necessary to prevent shutting down the show because of his situation," the statement reads.
Of course, as good as Kiefer Sutherland's intentions are in being concerned about his coworkers, perhaps he'll spare himself the trouble of wrangling with the legal system and think twice next time before getting behind a wheel to drive himself home.