BURBANK, Calif. - The California Highway Police are currently investigating why actress Nicole Richie was driving the wrong way on State Highway 134 under the apparent influence of drugs. The Simple Life star and 25-year-old daughter of pop singer Lionel Richie was taken into custody by California Highway Patrol officers after she failed a field sobriety test.
Officers on the scene were very puzzled by Ritchie's behavior. CHP Officer Todd Workman said he didn't understand why Richie had to be under the influence and driving. "We have observed Nicole, from near and afar, and we can see no reason that she needed drugs in order to do something so stupid. To the best of our knowledge, she has performed most of her previous stupidity entirely sober," said Workman.
The arrest followed an alert to the CHP of a wrong-way driver at 12:31 a.m., the agency said. The person calling 911 said an SUV was traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes of the Ventura (134) Freeway.
Ritchie's black 2005 Mercedes sport utility vehicle was in the car pool lane of the highway, and she was talking on a cell phone when officers arrived, after apparently going the wrong way then stopping in the middle of a freeway. Richie was booked in Glendale, tested for drugs and released later in the morning, Officer Workman said.
Richie told officers she had taken the prescription painkiller Vicodin and smoked marijuana, the CHP said. Results of the toxicology tests are pending.
No one, including Richie, was injured as a result of the star's allegedly errant ways.
Richie did not pull a Mel Gibson, according to Workman, who described Richie as cooperative. "This is also inexplicable to us, with such a publicity opportunity; it is the CHP's experience that most celebrities will use it to leverage some knuckle-headed behavior. We are very puzzled," said Workman.
A message left with Richie's publicist was not immediately returned, but insiders say the PR firm is very disappointed in Richie.
Also under investigation is Richie's racial classification, which has changed since her traffic arrest in 2003. She was listed as being white. On this arrest form, she was noted as being black. Michael Jackson had no comment.
Copyright 2006 Douglas Salguod