For Nicole Richie, four days in jail will be an intermission in her glamorous lifestyle: No miniskirts, no stiletto heels and no time off for good behavior. House arrest is not an option.
For her wrong-way freeway trek in a Mercedes-Benz, Richie was slapped Friday with a sentence of nearly four days in jail, a fine of $2,048 and orders to attend drug and alcohol rehab.
“She’s not gonna be coming in here wearing a miniskirt and pumps,” Burbank police Sgt. Thor Merich said, describing a spartan lifestyle that would await her if she goes to that city’s jail.
“We pretty much go the bare minimum,” he said.
Prosecutors said Richie will serve the time in a city jail rather than a county lockup. She has the choice of any local jail in Los Angeles County that will accept her.
On Friday, a somber and subdued Richie softly pleaded guilty in Superior Court to a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence of drugs in a deal with prosecutors that helped her avoid a potential year in jail on her second DUI conviction.
But Richie, who’s rumored to be pregnant, couldn’t avoid a lecture from Superior Court Commissioner Steven K. Lubell as he gave her 96 hours in jail, then took off six hours for time already served following her December arrest.
He said she will have to follow the law now or wind up in jail for a year.
For now, she will serve less than four days. In jail, Richie will be able to wear most of her own clothing but anything that might be used as a weapon will be taken away, including shoelaces, belts, high heels and underwire bras.
The waiflike reality show star was conservatively dressed Friday in a loose black trapeze style dress which skimmed her body and kept observers guessing about whether she’s pregnant. Her blond hair was pulled back in a knot at her neck just above a scroll tattoo with the name “Richie” and a small red bow.
She arrived and left court with her boyfriend, Joel Madden, surrounded by a cordon of burly private bodyguards.
The co-star of TV’s “The Simple Life” and daughter of pop singer Lionel Richie listened attentively as Lubell told her she was lucky that her wrong-way escapade had not killed or maimed someone.
With the tone of a stern father, he said what she did was “pretty scary,” and could have resulted in the death of her or others.
“The court does not want anything to happen to you,” he said.
Richie could face a murder charge if she continues to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol and someone dies, he said.
“I hope that never, ever happens,” the commissioner added.
Richie did not respond to his remarks. It was her second DUI conviction. The first, in June 2003, involved alcohol.
She must complete her jail time by Sept. 28 and return to court on Feb. 20, 2008 to show she has complied with the rest of the sentence.
“You are not to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol or drugs in your system,” Lubell told her. “You are not to drive without a driver’s license.”
He said the state Department of Motor Vehicles would decide whether to suspend her license.
Richie was arrested on Dec. 11 after witnesses reported seeing her black Mercedes-Benz sport utility vehicle headed the wrong way on a freeway in Burbank. The California Highway Patrol said they found her parked in the car pool lane.
Richie told authorities she had smoked marijuana and taken the prescription painkiller Vicodin, a CHP officer said at the time. No drugs were found on her or in the car.
Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, said house arrest was not an option. She will have to stay for the full sentence, pay for her incarceration and abide by rules that limit visitors and perks.
While each city may have slightly different rules on handling its inmates, “a jail is a jail,” Robison said.
That means it’s unlikely that Richie will be allowed to chat on a cell phone, order in gourmet food or schedule behind-bars manicures.
Just like in the movies, Richie could only see people during visiting hours and would talk to them through a thick sheet of glass, at least at the Burbank jail.
If Richie does her time in Burbank, she would probably be alone in a 4-by-10-foot cell because of safety concerns over her notoriety and because the jail has only limited facilities for women.
If it turns out Richie is pregnant, however, the jail would be unable to accommodate her medical needs and she would have to go to county jail - probably the same Lynwood lockup where party-girl pal Paris Hilton did part of her time.
At a city jail, for about $75 a day, Richie would have access to a collect-call phone, sleep on a metal bunk with a 2- or 3-inch-thick mattress and eat three prison meals a day (lunch fare often is a ham-and-cheese sandwich and an apple).
But if Richie thinks about turning her stay into another episode of “The Simple Life,” she can forget it.
“There’d be no camera crew allowed,” Merich said.