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Singer Spears charged with hit-and-run

September 22, 2007|Richard Winton | Times Staff Writer

Singer Britney Spears was charged Friday with misdemeanor hit-and-run and driving a vehicle without a license, authorities said.

If convicted, she could face up to a year in jail.

According to prosecutors, on Aug. 6 Spears struck a vehicle in a parking lot at 12800 Ventura Blvd. in Studio City, then drove away.

"The incident was captured on videotape," said Nick Velasquez, a spokesman for the Los Angeles city attorney's office.

The Los Angeles Police Department investigated after the owner of the car made a complaint. Velasquez said an investigation confirmed the driver involved was the singer, and a subsequent check with the California Department of Motor Vehicles showed she has no California license.

Spears was sent a letter Friday informing her of the charges. She is scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 10 in the Van Nuys branch of Los Angeles Superior Court. As the charges are misdemeanors, she won't be required to attend.

In a video of the incident, Spears' Mercedes-Benz convertible is seen grazing a Mercedes station wagon as the pop singer attempts to steer into an empty space. The video seems to show a small dog on Spears' lap. Afterward, Spears is seen apparently inspecting the vehicles.

The charges come three days after a Los Angeles County court commissioner said there was evidence that Spears was "a habitual, frequent and continuous" user of drugs and alcohol, and ordered mandatory, random twice-weekly drug tests.

The commissioner, ruling in a dispute between Spears and her former husband, Kevin Federline, over custody of their two children, also said that the pop star must meet with a parenting coach.

Federline wanted the court to reconsider the pair's child custody agreement amid several high-profile incidents of Spears' erratic behavior. Commissioner Scott M. Gordon took Spears to task but did not change the agreement, which gives each parent shared custody of their two boys.

That arrangement, however, was before Spears' inexplicable and bizarre public behavior that included shaving off her blond locks at a San Fernando Valley salon, attacking paparazzi with an umbrella and parading in her underwear -- and without -- for all to see.

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richard.winton@latimes.com

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