Gerard 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.
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 euros ($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.
French actor Gerard Depardieu waves as he arrives for the FIFA Ballon d'Or awards ceremony at the Kongresshaus in Zurich on January 7, 2013. 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 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.