Nicole Richie is "very lucky"—facing a DUI charge, yes, but in the words of one law-enforcement officer, "very lucky."
Richie was arrested early Monday in Burbank, California, after the California Highway Patrol received 911 calls about a wrong-way freeway driver, officials said.
No one, including Richie, was injured as a result of the star's allegedly errant ways.
"She's very lucky," CHP Officer Todd Workman said Monday. "And we're very lucky nobody was killed today."
The CHP was alerted to a wrong-way driver in the Burbank area at about 12:31 a.m., the agency said, via two separate 911 calls. (Click to listen to the 911 calls.)
Both tipsters reported seeing an SUV enter the Ventura (134) Freeway via a freeway exit, according to audio from the emergency calls.
"So, the party's now traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes?" a dispatcher asked.
"Yeah," an unidentified male caller said in disbelief.
"I don't know if he kept going," the caller continued, "but I saw him coming up the off-ramp, and I thought, you've got to be kidding me."
Sometime after, Workman said, officers found Richie on the Ventura Freeway, alone in a black 2005 Mercedes SUV that was facing west, in the correct direction.
"She was at a complete stop in a carpool lane, talking on a cell phone [with] her foot on the brake," Workman said.
Richie told officers she was following a friend, Workman said. But there were no other vehicles around at the time, he said.
Officers drove Richie's SUV off the freeway at the Buena Vista St. exit in Burbank, en route to conducting a field sobriety test.
Richie told officers she had taken the prescription painkiller Vicodin and smoked marijuana, the CHP said. Toxicology tests are pending.
Officers arrested Richie at 1:45 a.m. on suspicion of driving under the influence, the CHP said.
The Simple Life star did not pull a Mel Gibson, according to Workman, who described Richie as "cooperative."
Richie was booked at the Glendale Police Department at 4:50 a.m. and released from there at 7 a.m., that agency said.
"This is a difficult time for Nicole but she is prepared to accept whatever responsibility is appropriate. She intends to continue with her career and will deal with any other issues that need to be addressed," said her attorney, Howard Weitzman.
Another member of the Richie camp, who requested anonymity, told E! News, "It is what it is," and cast doubt as to whether the reality star copped to any drug use.
Lionel Richie, Richie's pop-star father, issued a "no comment" via his publicist.
Richie, 25, did a rehab stint in 2003 after an arrest for heroin possession. Then, as now, Richie was busted during a traffic stop. But in the earlier incident, it was Richie's registration tags, not her navigational deficiencies, that got the attention of officers.
Paris Hilton, Richie's Simple Life cohort, was arrested for DUI herself in September.
In October, Richie announced she was seeking medical expertise to determine why she wasn't gaining weight. The booking sheet from Monday's arrest had a five-foot-one Richie lightly tipping the scales at 85 pounds.
As the Smoking Gun pointed out, Richie's booking sheet from 2003 listed her as being one inch taller and five pounds heavier. In the intervening years, Richie's racial classification also changed. In 2003, she was listed as being white. On Monday, she was noted as being black.
Before Richie gets behind the wheel again, she might want to check out her own MySpace page, where one online friend on Monday offered words to live by.
"When you are rich, and you can afford a driver," the poster said, "you should use one."