Nicole Richie is nothing if not speedy.

Charged Friday with a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence, Richie on Tuesday pleaded not guilty via a lawyer, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office confirmed.

Richie was not present in the L.A.-area courtroom, nor was she required to be.

A pretrial hearing was set for Apr. 2, the D.A.'s office said.

Richie's camp not only didn't waste time in answering the DUI charge, it beat potentially prying paparazzi to the photo op by entering the plea one day ahead of schedule.

As an added bonus, by showing up at court on Tuesday Team Richie was able to take cover under the day's flurry of bald-Britney-Spears-back-in-rehab and Anna-Nicole-Smith-still-dead stories.

The 25-year-old Richie faces up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine if convicted. The potential penalties are greater in her case because the Simple Life star has a previous DUI conviction on her record.

Richie's latest legal troubles date back to last Dec. 11, when law enforcement, responding to 911 calls of a wrong-way freeway driver, allegedly found the reality TV star idling in the carpool lane from behind the wheel of her black 2005 Mercedes SUV.

Richie admitted to using the prescription painkiller Vicodin and smoking marijuana prior to embarking on her late-night drive, the California Highway Patrol said.

Prosecutors have charged Richie with being under the influence of alcohol and an unspecified drug.

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