Justin Bieber chase: Prosecutors may test new anti-paparazzi law
The Los Angeles city attorney's office is considering filing the first case under an anti-paparazzi law against a photographer who pursued Justin Bieber during a high-speed freeway chase.
The law cracks down on photographers who drive recklessly in pursuit of celebrities or block sidewalks and create the sense of "false imprisonment." City Atty. Carmen Trutanich helped craft the 2010 law, which was sponsored by Assemblywoman Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) and imposes stiff penalties — including possible jail time — for photographers who cross the line, said Deputy Chief City Atty. Bill Carter.
Bieber was ticketed by the California Highway Patrol for going in excess of 80 mph and driving recklessly on the 101 Freeway. The photographer, one of several in the pursuit, evaded authorities. But CHP officials say officers identified the paparazzo's license plate and were able to identify him.
Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine, who called 911 to report the incident, said he saw paparazzi pursuing Bieber. The councilman said he understands the problems celebrities have with some paparazzi, but said that's no excuse for unsafe driving.
"Any time you do 90, the paparazzi are going to go 90," Zine said. "He was going from the fast lane to the slow lane to the shoulder in traffic. It was a very dangerous driving situation. I figured someone was going to crash, so I called 911."
But the law is not without controversy. News organizations objected strongly when Gov. Arnold Schwarznegger -- himself a paparazzi target -- signed it into law in 2010, arguing that laws already exist for reckless driving.
"Some artists fear there is going to be a terrible accident," Bass said at the time. "This is certainly no attempt to regulate the press."
-- Richard Winton
Photo: Justin Bieber performs onstage Wednesday in Sydney, Australia. Credit: Brendon Thorne / Getty Images