BLOOMINGTON - Nationally known playwright and actor Sam Shepard apologized to a McLean County judge Wednesday for driving drunk in Normal last month and agreed to pay fines and perform 100 hours of community service. | RAW VIDEO: Shepard leaves courthouse | Archive: Actor arrested in Normal | Flick: Here for a movie?
"I never intend to drive under the influence again … it's not worth it," Shepard said during a 20-minute court appearance on charges of speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol.
The actor was stopped Jan. 3 in the 700 block of North Main Street around 2 a.m. after officers clocked him on radar going 46 mph in a 30 mph zone.
Assistant State's Attorney Matthew Banach said Shepard's blood alcohol level was 0.175, more than twice the 0.08 legal limit for driving.
Dressed in a pin-striped suit, Shepard arrived at the McLean County Law and Justice Center 45 minutes early for the 1:30 p.m. court appearance. He waited in a conference room with defense attorney Hal Jennings for the hearing to start.
A handful of spectators came to watch the actor make his debut in the McLean County courtroom. Several students whose assignment was to attend a court hearing also took seats for the plea hearing, unaware ahead of time who the defendant was.
Defense lawyer Hal Jennings told the judge he was unable to reach a sentencing agreement with prosecutors but his client would plead guilty.
Associate Judge Casey Costigan fined the 65-year-old actor $600 and court costs. He was placed on 24 months of court supervision and ordered to complete any recommended alcohol treatment program and 100 hours of community service.
In remarks to the judge, Shepard explained that he had stopped at Fat Jacks in downtown Bloomington and was swapping stories with two men about the movie "Black Hawk Down," a 2001 war film featuring Shepard. He said he routinely stopped in Bloomington when making the trip between his home in Kentucky and relatives in Minnesota.
Shepard also expressed regret for leaving his dog in the car while he was in the bar.
The actor's busy schedule, which will take him to Ireland for a theater production and to work in New York, was a factor at the hearing. Costigan agreed to allow Shepard to complete his alcohol treatment at a facility in New York.
Shepard agreed with Jennings' arguments that locally published mug shots of the actor that made their way to national media added to Shepard's embarrassment about the incident.
"You got hammered for getting arrested for DUI," said Jennings.
Before leaving the courthouse, Shepard paid his fines at the circuit clerk's office and stopped by the court services department for information on the community service he must complete. The service will not be performed in McLean County.
The judge set a Sept. 25 hearing to review Shepard's compliance with the sentencing terms.