Miss USA Rima Fakih, the first Arab-American to be crowned, entered a no contest plea Wednesday in a drunken-driving case. The former beauty queen offered the plea to driving while visibly impaired.
“You learn, you pay your price for making mistakes and you move on. I’m very happy I can put this behind me,” Fakih said outside of court in Detroit.
A no contest plea isn’t an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing, which will take place May 9. She faces a maximum of 93 days in jail.
A trial had been planned before 30th District Court Judge Brigette Officer on the original charges of drunken driving, careless driving and having an open container of alcohol, all misdemeanors.
Fakih, 26, has said she wasn’t drinking the night of her arrest in December, but two police breath tests put her blood alcohol content at over twice the legal limit.
Fakih, whose family moved to New York from Lebanon in 1993 and then to the Detroit suburb of Dearborn 10 years later, won the Miss USA Pageant in 2010, becoming the first Arab-American to do so. Supporters described her win as a victory for diversity, saying it countered negative stereotypes about people of Middle Eastern descent that have flourished in post-Sept. 11, 2001 America.
Police said Fakih was driving 60 mph in a 30 mph zone and weaving in and out of traffic before they pulled her over, and officers found an open bottle of champagne behind the driver’s seat of the 2011 Jaguar.
One breath test put her blood alcohol content at 0.20 percent and another put it at 0.19 percent — both above the legal limit of 0.08.