Kiefer Sutherland starts jail term
By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Kiefer Sutherland, star of the hit television series "24," was formally sentenced on Wednesday to 48 days in jail for drunken driving, and his lawyer said the actor would begin doing time immediately.
Sutherland will serve the 48 days consecutively rather than in two separate stints as had been previously planned in order to prevent a conflict with the production schedule of the Fox network show.
Fox announced last month it was suspending production on the series due to the screenwriters' strike, so there was no longer any need for Sutherland to break up his jail term into two parts.
Sutherland, who turns 41 later this month, was arrested in September while still on probation for a 2004 drunken driving offense.
In October, he pleaded no contest -- the equivalent of a guilty plea -- to a single count of driving with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit.
Prosecutors agreed then to recommend he serve 30 days for the new offense plus 18 days for violating his probation in the 2004 case.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Stuart Rice endorsed the plea deal and the sentence during a brief hearing attended by the actor on Wednesday. The judge gave Sutherland until March 30 to complete his jail term.
But Sutherland's lawyer, Blair Berk, told Reuters the performer decided to turn himself in on Wednesday evening to begin serving his sentence immediately. The celebrity Web site TMZ.com later reported the actor was being booked.
In addition, Sutherland was placed on five years' probation and fined $510, according to Assistant City Attorney Dan Jeffries, who said the actor also was ordered to enroll in an 18-month alcohol education-treatment program and to attend six months of weekly alcohol counseling sessions.
The Canadian performer, the son of screen star Donald Sutherland, won an Emmy Award last year for his role as the terrorist-fighting agent Jack Bauer on "24." The show averaged 13.5 million viewers last season.