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Richie Sambora Pleads Out DUI Case

This police booking photo released by Laguna Beach, Calif., Police Department on Wednesday, March 26, 2008, shows Bon Jovi lead guitarist Richie Sambora after being arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.
AP/Laguna Beach, Calif., P.D.
Richie Sambora struck a deal with prosecutors Tuesday just hours after they filed drunken driving charges against him, pleading no contest to one misdemeanor count of driving with a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit.

In turn, the district attorney agreed to drop a second charge — driving under the influence of alcohol — against the Bon Jovi guitarist, said Farrah Emami, a district attorney spokeswoman.

Sambora was sentenced to three years of informal probation, three months of first-offender alcohol awareness class and court fees. He also cannot have any measurable amount of drugs or alcohol in his system while driving during his probation.

The legal-limit charge refers to a blood-test measurement, whereas the under-the-influence charge is generally based on a more subjective determination of the driver's condition. Both are routinely filed in drinking and driving cases and carry similar penalties.


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The 48-year-old musician was pulled over in Laguna Beach on March 25 after he was allegedly seen swerving and straddling two lanes. District attorney's spokeswoman Farrah Emami said Sambora's blood-alcohol level was .13 percent; the legal limit is .08 percent in California.

Sambora did not attend the hearing at the Orange County Superior Court, where his attorney, Blair Berk, entered the plea on his behalf. Berk confirmed the plea deal but declined to comment further.

Two children and a woman were in the car. The children were released to the woman's custody, and none of their names have been made public.

Police had asked the district attorney to file misdemeanor charges of child endangerment against Sambora as well, but Emami said prosecutors didn't have enough to make the case.

"The charge of DUI in itself indicates you have endangered yourself and others," she said. "There would have needed to be additional aggravating circumstances to charge that."

Sambora is a founding member of Bon Jovi, and has played guitar for all of their hits, including "Bad Medicine." The group's last album, released in 2007, was called "Lost Highway."

The band has been touring in support of the album since February. The tour was ranked No. 1 on the list of top 20 selling tours this week, according to Pollstar. The next scheduled tour date is March 31 in Denver.

Last June, Sambora checked into a treatment center at the UCLA Medical Center because, he said later, he had "been drinking too much."

He spent a week at the facility, and said he would be continuing with therapy.

"I checked into detox," he told Matt Lauer on the "Today" show. "I didn't check into rehab."