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    Nicole Richie Rung Up on DUI Charge

    Nicole Richie's reputed wrong-way drive has landed her right on the court docket.

    The Simple Life star was charged Friday with one misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of "an alcoholic beverage and a drug," the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office announced.

    The D.A.'s office did not specify what drug or drink Richie allegedly had running through her system when she was found behind the wheel of her idling black 2005 Mercedes SUV on an L.A.-area freeway last Dec. 11.

    Richie herself told officers she'd taken the prescription painkiller Vicodin and smoked marijuana prior to hitting the road, the California Highway Patrol said at the time of the arrest. There was no word that she'd mentioned alcohol.

    An arraignment on the charge is scheduled for Feb. 21. Richie won't be required to enter a plea in person, the D.A.'s office said.

    If convicted, Richie could face up to a year in jail, plus a maximum $1,000 fine, because of a prior DUI conviction, D.A. spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said. (First-time DUI offenders face up to six months in jail.)

    Or, Gibbons noted, a conviction could find Richie sentenced to community service and penalized with a restricted license—it'll be up to the judge.

    Richie was convicted of misdemeanor DUI in June 2003, that matter stemming from a 2002 arrest.

    Three months before the 2003 conviction, Richie was arrested on suspicion of heroin possession and driving with a suspended license. (She was ultimately sentenced to drug-diversion and probation in that case.)

    In the most recent blotter entry, motorists on the Ventura (134) Freeway called 911 in the early hours of Dec. 11 to report a black SUV driving eastbound in the westbound lanes. When CHP officers arrived on the scene, they found Richie's black SUV in the carpool lane. The car was facing the right direction, but Richie allegedly was doing the wrong thing—chatting on a cell phone, her foot on the brake.

    Last month, Richie's Simple Life colleague Paris Hilton resolved her own DUI case with a no-contest plea to a misdemeanor count of alcohol-related reckless driving.

    The two are scheduled to begin work this spring on the next season of their E! reality show, in which they'll serve as camp counselors. (E! Online is a division of E! Networks.)

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