Wednesday, June 11, 2008

MELBOURNE television chef Curtis Stone will face a California drunk driving

California DUI lawyers are told MELBOURNE television chef Curtis Stone will face a US court for drink driving following his early morning arrest for a California DUI in Hollywood 11 days ago.

Californian authorities today charged Stone with three serious California DUI counts - driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, having a blood alcohol level higher than the Californian legal limit of .08 and driving without a licence.

Stone, who found fame hosting Australian cooking programs My Restaurant Rules on Channel 7 and Surfing the Menu on the ABC before moving to the Los Angeles two years ago, faces up to a year in a US prison if he is found guilty of the charges.

Stone was arrested for California DUI - drink driving by Los Angeles police about 2am on May 30 and spent 12 hours behind bars before being released on $US5000 bail.

The 32-year-old's charge sheet, which was obtained by the Herald Sun today, also included a mention of drugs.

"(He) did willfully and unlawfully drive a vehicle while being under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and a drug," the charges read.

A spokesman for the LA City Attorney Department said while the Californian charge of driving under the inflence referred to both drugs and alcohol, Stone's incident did not include drugs.

"In this case it was alcohol," he said.

Stone's California DUI arrest took place in the centre of Hollywood's party district, home to some of Tinseltown's most exclusive bars.

A California DUI police spokesman said the officers saw Stone's car being driven erratically and, after pulling him over, they noticed he appeared to be drunk.

The Melburnian, who allegedly had a blood alcohol level of more than .1 when he was tested by California DUI authorities, stewed overnight at the Hollywood Police Station, before being released about 2pm.

It is unclear whether Stone was alone or with friends at the time of his California DUI arrest.

Stone's case is scheduled to be heard on June 27 in the Metropolitan Court - the same downtown court where Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie faced charges for driving under the inflence.

A California DUI court spokesman said if Stone is found guilty he faces a possible jail sentence of up to a year and fines of up to $2000.

"The maximum on the driving under the inflence charge is six months and a $1000 fine, and the maximum for the licence charge is also six months and a $1000 fine," he said.

Stone - who hosts Take Home Chef, one of the most popular cooking reality shows on US television - may also be ordered by the court to take part in an alcohol counselling program.

The mowhawked chef fled Los Angeles after his California DUI arrest had been uncovered.

Stone - who lives alone in a $7 million, three-bedroom bachelor pad in the Hollywood Hills - is believed to have flown interstate at the orders of his team of US advisers to evade the Australian media, according to California DUI lawyers.