Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Nonzee sentenced for drunken driving

Filmmaker Nonzee Nimibutr is going to need someone to drive him around after a court sentenced him yesterday to seven days in jail and suspended his driver's license for six months.

The sentence stems from charges after an arrest on April 11 when Nonzee's black Mercedes CLK 230 sideswiped a taxi. Police said his blood-alcohol level measured at 300 milligrams per millilitre. The legal limit is 50 milligrams.

The Nation/Daily Xpress has more:

"I had to drive home after a party to celebrate Khan Kluay II taking 80 million baht at the box office," said Nonzee, who voiced the character of the Hongsa king in the animated movie. "I am so sorry," he added.

The affair is especially embarrassing to Nonzee as he was once presented a "No Drunk Driving" campaign. He was previously caught drunk driving in 2003.

"As a repeat offender, he does not qualify for a suspended sentence," the court said.

The story also says Nonzee's sentence was reduced from 14 days detention after he "provided useful testimonies." I'm not sure what that means.

Nonzee, the veteran director of such films as Nang Nak, Daeng Bireley's and the Young Gangsters and Jan Dara, plans to appeal the verdict and has been released on 30,000 baht bail.

His latest film was last year's historical pirate epic, Queens of Langkasuka, which he worked on for more than three years and had hoped to release in two parts, only to have it released by Sahamongkol Film International in a much-shortened version that ran just under two hours. It played to mixed reviews at overseas film festivals, but had good reception in Thailand and won awards for its lavish costumes and production design.

Last year, Nonzee was given the Silpathorn Award, a Culture Ministry honor given to contemporary artists who are considered to be in their mid-career.

Update: The Bangkok Post's Mae Moo Sunday gossip column has a bit more (cache):

[Nonzee], who was given a suspended jail term on his last drink-driving conviction a few years ago, is repentant.

"I regret what happened, but I am sure my fans will understand why it was important for me to take my own car rather than a taxi that night. I was invited to many functions, and a car was simply more convenient."

The Queens of Langkasuka director, who intends to appeal, is out on bail.

"I want the court to reconsider the sentence. I don't want to just sit around for seven days. How about getting me to front another advertisement, free of charge, on the dangers of drink-driving?"

Will the court really consider that?

(Photo via Kom Chad Luek)

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