Wed 25 Jul 2012
Pop singer Justin Bieber often finds himself dominating the news, usually for massive record sales and his legions of young fans. But now he’s in the spotlight for a much less glamorous reason, as he was pulled over by officers of the California Highway Patrol on the busy 101 Freeway. According to reports, he was ticketed for reckless driving, and was clocked doing well over 80 mph. His excuse for the high-speed chase? Apparently he was trying to evade the paparazzi that were pursuing him. Of course that didn’t stop the cops from giving him a ticket and a fine, but it may lead to a historic case in court. The LA city attorney is reportedly thinking of filing a case under a recent, untested anti-paparazzi law, targeting one of the photographers that chased Bieber but got away.
When Bieber was pulled over there were several paparazzi in pursuit, but all of them evaded the authorities. Yet one paparazzo wasn’t moving fast enough to completely avoid detection, as members of the California Highway Patrol were able to spot his license plate number before he disappeared down the highway. That set him firmly in the attorney’s office crosshairs, and he may go down as the first person tried under the anti-paparazzi law.
The law was designed to punish careless photographers who make their living by hounding celebrities and selling photos to the highest bidder. There’s nothing illegal about taking pictures of someone in a public place, but the paparazzi often drive recklessly to keep up with celebrities, or even block their path down the sidewalk. The law, crafted in 2010 by City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and sponsored by Karen Bass, a democratic Assemblywoman from Los Angeles, was designed to put an end to what they saw as a form of false imprisonment by the paparazzi. According to Deputy Chief City Attorney Bill Carter, the penalties for conviction under this law would include significant fines and even jail time.
The incident involving Bieber and the paparazzi was actually called in by LA City Councilman Dennis Zine, who was in the area and saw the pursuit. He called 911 to report it, and recently went on record with his thoughts surrounding the situation. He was quoted as saying that he understands that celebrities go through an awful lot of annoyance at the hands of paparazzi, and recognizes the frustration. However, he cannot condone dangerous driving, regardless of the reasons. According to his report, Bieber was switching lanes wildly, and even drove on the shoulder during a traffic slow down. His concern that an accident was imminent prompted the call to the authorities.
Not everyone is in support of the anti-paparazzi law. Governor Schwarznegger signed the bill in 2010, enacting its legal power, and received serious blowback from news organizations. The bottom line is, the spirit of the law in no way impinges upon the rights of the press. But perhaps the next time Bieber’s in Georgia for a huge concert, there will be less concern that the need for an Atlanta auto accident lawyer will crop up, now that the paparazzi understand there could be some real ramifications for pestering him.