Kiefer Sutherland pleads no contest to DUI charge; new judge could void plea deal

Times Staff Writer

Actor Kiefer Sutherland pleaded no contest Tuesday to a misdemeanor drunk driving charge stemming from his arrest two weeks ago in West Los Angeles.

Sutherland, who plays counter-terrorism agent Jack Bauer on the popular Fox TV show “24,” was scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 21 in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

The Los Angeles city attorney’s office, as part of a plea deal with Sutherland, recommended that he be sentenced to 48 days in jail. The sentence would reflect 30 days for the misdemeanor charge and 18 days for violating probation on a separate 2004 DUI case.

But Sutherland could be sentenced to as much as a year if the judge who took over the case Tuesday, Stuart M. Rice, rejects the plea deal.


Rice stepped in because the previous judge -- Michael T. Sauer, who presided over the recent Paris Hilton case involving a probation violation on a DUI charge and who sent her back to jail after she was released early -- was on vacation.

Before last month’s arrest, Sutherland already had three alcohol-related offenses on his record.

Sutherland, who did not appear in court Tuesday, submitted a no-contest plea to driving with a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit of 0.08%. Under the plea deal, a related misdemeanor charge, driving under the influence, was dropped.

In a statement released by his publicist, Sutherland said, “I’m very disappointed in myself for the poor judgment I exhibited recently, and I’m deeply sorry for the disappointment and distress this has caused my family, friends and co-workers on ’24' and at 20th Century Fox.”