Gerard Depardieu Ignores DUI Hearing
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Gerald Depardieu's relatively minor drunk driving charge has now been elevated to criminal court, after the dominant French film star of the modern era failed to show up at a hearing in Paris earlier today. His lawyer claims that the actor had a vital meeting abroad for an upcoming film—but the Associated Press reports that he was actually meeting with the Prime Minister of Montenegro. Despite not being able to fit the DUI hearing into his schedule, Depardieu has reportedly had time over the last three days to inspect some real estate in Montenegro, attend soccer's Ballon d'Or gala in Switzerland and meet with Vladimir Putin to receive Russian citizenship. The DUI charge was issued last November, when Depardieu reportedly fell off a scooter he was driving in Paris. The following week, the mayor of a town in Belgium announced that the star had set up residence there to avoid rising French taxes on the wealthy. Christopher Mesnooh, a Paris lawyer not linked to the case, says that excuses like Depardieu's are commonly accepted the first time, but won't be tolerated at a second hearing. With the case now in criminal court, the punishment could potentially involve Depardieu losing his license and spending up to two years in jail. This isn't his first alcohol-related mishap: In 1998, he crashed his motorcycle and suffered face and leg injuries—his blood-alcohol level was five times the legal limit. And in August 2011, Depardieu was thrown off an Air France flight after publicly urinating into a bottle before take-off, although he denied being drunk on that occasion. "He has a tempest within him and is deeply unhappy," says his ex-wife, Elisabeth Depardieu.