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Former Miss USA Rima Fakih pleads no contest in driving impairment case

Former Miss USA Rima Fakih appears Wednesday in 30th District Court in Highland Park with city attorney Todd Russell Perkins, left, and her attorney, W. Otis Culpepper, at her impaired driving trial.
/ ANDRE J. JACKSON/Detroit Free Press

Former Miss USA Rima Fakih pleaded no contest to driving while visibly impaired, avoiding a trial that was to start Wednesday on a more serious charge of operating while intoxicated.
Fakih, 26, stood next to her attorney, W. Otis Culpepper, on Wednesday in 30th District Court in Highland Park as Culpepper announced she would accept a plea deal.

"You have to pay the price for making mistakes, but you move on and make sure you learn from those mistakes," Fakih said after the hearing. Two other charges -- open intoxicants, a misdemeanor, and careless driving, a civil infraction -- were dismissed as part of the plea deal.

Fakih, who two years ago was the first Arab American to be crowned Miss USA, will be sentenced on the misdemeanor conviction May 9. A no-contest plea is not an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing purposes. "The settlement that was reached is fair to all sides," Culpepper said. "She doesn't have to go through all of this anymore." Culpepper said he expects Fakih will be placed on probation and hopes she can serve that probation in California, where she now lives and is pursuing an acting career.

Fakih was arrested Dec. 3 after a Highland Park police officer said she was driving a black 2011 Jaguar XJR at a high rate of speed near 6 Mile and Woodward. The officer said the car was traveling at 60 m.p.h., and that Fakih changed lanes several times without using a turn signal. Police pulled her over in the area of Woodward and Highland. The officer said Fakih appeared disoriented and had slurred speech. Police found a wine bottle and an open bottle of champagne in the car, reports said.

A breath test revealed she initially had a blood-alcohol level of 0.19%. The level at which someone can be convicted of drunken driving is 0.08%. Fakih was born in Lebanon and moved to the U.S. at age 7. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

SOURCE: Detroit Free Press, 4/12/2012