January 20, 2007 / 7:40 PM / 14 years ago

Nicole Richie charged with driving under influence

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rail-thin reality TV star Nicole Richie was charged early on Monday with driving under the influence of drugs after she was seen going against traffic on a Southern California freeway, police said.

Nicole Richie is shown in this booking mug released to Reuters by the Glendale Police Department December 11, 2006. REUTERS/Glendale Police Department/Handout

The predawn arrest of the 25-year-old “celebutante” co-star of “The Simple Life” came about six weeks after it was revealed that she had checked herself into a treatment facility to address weight-loss issues.

A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department report showed the 5-foot-1-inch actress weighed 85 pounds (39 kg) at the time of her booking.

Officer Todd Workman, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol, said police encountered Richie at a standstill blocking the carpool lane on the Ventura Freeway in Burbank at about 1:45 a.m. He said the officers were responding to reports from other motorists of a driver going the wrong way on the busy highway.

Although Richie’s car was pointed in the right direction when police found her, her black sports utility vehicle matched the description of an SUV seen entering the freeway against traffic nearby, Workman said.

Workman said Richie was placed under arrest after she failed a field sobriety test, and that she admitted to officers that she had taken the prescription painkiller Vicodin and smoked marijuana. A preliminary alcohol screening test was negative, he said.

According to Workman, Richie was alone in her vehicle and on the cell phone when police approached her. He described her as “very cooperative” and that she told police she had been following a friend on the freeway when she got lost.

Richie, who has previously undergone treatment for heroin addiction, was subsequently booked into jail on a DUI charge and was released a few hours later after posting $15,000 bail, authorities said.

Representatives for the daughter of singer Lionel Richie were not immediately available for comment.

Richie’s publicists said in October that she had checked herself into a treatment facility to address her inability to gain weight but denied that the waif-like TV personality was suffering from an eating disorder.

At the time, producers of “The Simple Life” said her treatment had forced a delay in production of the latest installment of the show, which airs on the E! Entertainment cable network and co-stars hotel heiress Paris Hilton.

Hilton was arrested in Hollywood in September on suspicion of drunk driving after police saw her driving erratically.

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