Depardieu a no-show for drink-drive court date

Gérard Depardieu, embroiled in a high-profile tax row that saw the French actor take Russian nationality and angrily vow to quit France, failed to turn up Tuesday in a Paris court to face drunk driving charges.

Depardieu a no-show for drink-drive court date
Gérard Depardieu arrives at a FIFA awards ceremony in Zurich on Monday. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

The 64-year-old "Cyrano de Bergerac", "Green Card" and "Asterix & Obelix" star, who has admitted driving his scooter while intoxicated, would have escaped with a small fine and penalty points on his driving licence if he had appeared.

He had been due to appear for sentencing Tuesday but now faces a criminal court hearing which may lead to a fine of €4,500 ($5,900) and a possible prison sentence of up to two years.

He was detained in the French capital in November after falling off his scooter, which he had been riding while more than three times over the legal alcohol limit.

Depardieu on Monday attended one of football's top award ceremonies, the Ballon d'Or, in Switzerland, after spending the weekend in Russia, where President Vladimir Putin met him and he was given him a Russian passport.    

Taking Russian nationality was the latest volley in a highly publicised row between Depardieu and the French government over its attempt to raise the tax rate on earnings of more than one million euros to 75 percent.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Drunk Frenchman on tractor runs over and kills two children

Two children were run over and killed by a Frenchman driving a tractor on a quiet country road in central France. The driver was found to be drunk at the wheel.

Drunk Frenchman on tractor runs over and kills two children
Photo: AFP

The tragic incident occurred at Montbazens, in the Aveyron department of central France on Saturday afternoon.

A 27-year-old driver, a firefighter, ran over and killed two children as he drove his tractor around a bend in the road.

The children, a 7-year-old boy and an 8-year-old girl, were on their bikes when they were struck. Paramedics tried to resuscitate the two children but without success.

The driver has been charged with aggravated manslaughter because he was found to be driving his vehicle under the influence of alcohol and judged not to have been in control of the tractor, which was also pulling a trailer loaded with soil.

Cherif Chabbi, the local prosecutor said the initial investigation suggested the driver took the bend too quickly.

The driver who admitted he had consumed alcohol at a family lunch before driving the tractor had a previous conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol in 2011.

Special psychology teams have been set up the village of Montbazens where the girl went to school and in the village in the department of the Lot where the boy was at school.

Drink-driving remains a persistent problem in France especially in rural areas.

In 2016 a survey by Axa insurance revealed almost one quarter of French drivers have admitted to drinking alcohol before driving.

Axa's Celine Soubranne told The Local at the time that “we still see a number of French drivers drinking small amounts of alcohol, because they still don't see any danger in it, even it it still means their awareness is reduced.

“They still think 'little alcohol, little danger',” Soubranne said.

Alcohol is the second leading cause of road fatalities in France – the first one being speed – and is responsible for around 10 percent of road deaths in France, the total of which last year stood at 3,456.

In 2015 the French government cracked down on drink driving among young people by reducing the legal limit from 0.5 grams/litre of alcohol in their bloodstream to 0.2.

Previous surveys have suggested the problem is even more worrying with the culture of drink-driving in France proving hard to extinguish.

The head of France's leading motorists group says France has failed to make the same progress as the UK.

“In contrast to the UK, drink-driving is not yet socially unacceptable in France,” Pierre Chasseray, the head of driver's group “40 million d'automobilistes” told The Local previously.

“In the UK it's become shameful to drink and drive but in France it is still accepted. For the last 40 years the government has done nothing to tackle this problem even though it is the main cause of deaths on France's roads.”

“The government needs to put in place a policy to prioritize reducing the levels of drink driving. In France up to now the authorities have been obsessed by cracking down on speeding, because it brings in money through speeding tickets.”