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French actor Depardieu banned for drunk driving

Actor Gerard Depardieu attends the first Russian Film Festival which pays a tribute to the French actor in Nice June 16, 2013. REUTERS/Eric
Actor Gerard Depardieu attends the first Russian Film Festival which pays a tribute to the French actor in Nice June 16, 2013. REUTERS/Eric

PARIS (Reuters) - French actor Gerard Depardieu was banned from driving for six months on Friday, after he was found to be three times over the alcohol limit when he fell from his scooter last year.

The 64-year-old star of films such as Green Card and Cyrano de Bergerac was not in the Paris court to hear its decision to suspend his driving license and fine him 4,000 euros ($5,300). Drink-driving can be punishable by up to two years' jail.

The flamboyant actor, who owns a vineyard in the Loire valley, injured his elbow but nobody else when he fell from the scooter in the capital in mid-afternoon last November.

With top roles in more than 100 movies, one of the country's best-known actors has made the headlines on many occasions for reasons other than his film career.

The scooter fall came a few months after a car driver filed a suit against Depardieu for assault and battery following an altercation in Paris.

The year before, Depardieu outraged passengers by urinating in the aisle of an Air France flight as it prepared to take off.

Depardieu criticized the left-wing government last year over high taxes and took President Vladimir Putin up on an offer of a Russian passport.

He has appeared in ketchup advertisements in Russia, which has a flat tax rate of 13 percent on income, compared with more than 40 percent in France where the government plans a supertax of 75 percent on incomes above 1 million euros.

Depardieu said his decision to take Russian nationality and plan to open a restaurant in the city of Saransk were not motivated by tax concerns. He is considering shooting a film in Chechnya, where he was seen this year embracing strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

Commenting on Friday's court ruling, Depardieu's lawyer, Eric de Caumont, said: "Naturally we are disappointed to the extent that we had sought an acquittal." ($1 = 0.7590 euros)

(Reporting by Marine Pennetier; Writing by Brian Love; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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