If you happened to be driving on the 101 freeway in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago, you may have noticed a flashy, chromed-out Fisker Karma speeding down road and weaving through traffic at 80 miles per hour. You might have thought to yourself that this recognizable car looked very similar to the one teen heartthrob Justin Bieber received for his 18th birthday (the reason you might know this is that the $100,000+ car was presented to him during his appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show). And if you were quick enough to catch a glimpse inside as the car zipped past, you may have realized that the sweet-voiced boy wonder was behind the wheel, which would probably explain the mob of cars tailing him like bats out of hell. And if you progressed a bit further down the road you probably got to witness Bieber being ticketed while the paparazzi got off scot-free.
On Friday, July 6th, close to eleven a.m., Justin Bieber was pulled over and issued a traffic ticket for driving recklessly and exceeding the posted speed limit of 65 miles per hour, this after several people called in to report his dangerous driving. Apparently his excuse that he was being pursued by paparazzi was not enough to get him off the hook, since he still broke the law, but the officer apparently told him that instead of speeding he should simply call the police when photographers were pursuing him. And it was only minutes after the officer left him that he did just that (you no doubt heard the 911 call on TMZ).
This incident may have been publicized simply because it was Justin Bieber, but the story isn’t new. And it seems that the authorities may finally be taking steps to stop paparazzi from creating dangerous situations in their single-minded attempts to snap candid photos of celebrities. No one can forget the tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales, or the fact that her driver was attempting to evade the paparazzi when he caused the fatal crash. So it’s sort of surprising that it has taken so long for the authorities to begin taking steps to punish the photographers responsible for recklessly pursuing their celebrity targets.
In truth, Bieber couldn’t have picked a better place to bring this issue to light (although that probably wasn’t his intention when he sped away from the paparazzi a few weeks ago). Then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a statewide anti-paparazzi law back in 2010 to combat aggressive photographers that created a “false sense of imprisonment” with their tactics (like blocking celebrities from walking or driving by creating a ring around them). And Bieber’s case could be the first to get tried under this law thanks to the quick thinking of some CHP officers that got the license plate of at least on pursuant as he sped away (and ultimately evaded the authorities).
This is great news for celebrities, many of whom are forced to become shut-ins, travel incognito, or bring a huge security force to keep the paparazzi at bay when they’re out in public. And since most don’t want to have to break the law in order to get away from these threatening individuals, or worse, end up calling on an L.A., New York, or Atlanta auto accident lawyer because they’ve suffered a crash during a chase, a win in court could set a precedent that finally puts an end to this celebrity stalking and the dangerous situations it creates.